Salary History and Contract Status:Crawford is entering the 1st year of a 5-year extension that totaled 5 years/$45 million with a guarantee of $24.6m on September 12, 2015. Then, on March 10, his contract was restructured to convert 5.5m of his 2016 base salary to a bonus spread over the length of the deal. This lowered his 2016 cap hit from 8.7m to 4.3m. The cap hits for the other four years of his deal are 2017: $10.3m, 2018: $9.1m, 2019: $10.1m, and 2020: $9.1m.
2012 Draft Profile From Ourlads.com: 6'4, 275, 4.85 - One-Year starter. Canadian, Junior college transfer from Bakersfield Community College. Flashes first step explosiveness. Has the length and strength in his game. Quick up-field and laterally. Accelerates off a block to get to the ball carrier. Doesn't stay blocked. A good, but not fluid athlete. Needs to improve his hand-use as a pass rusher and when shedding blocks. Plays with raw power and functional strength but needs technique work. Can hold the point of attack. Possesses the tools to be a left base defensive end in a four-man front or get work as a 5-technique in a three-man scheme. Has the strength to two-gap. Will need pro physical development and position skill work. Has an injury history. Fourth/fifth Round.
Pre-2015: Crawford was one of the very rare defensive linemen that the Cowboys drafted in 2012 to help with their 3-4 defense, only to change schemes one year into his career. He played 296 snaps of largely forgettable football in his rookie season and then as the Cowboys switched coordinators and schemes in 2013, he fell to a torn Achilles early in camp and missed his entire sophomore year. To his great credit, he returned in 2014 with a larger and stronger build, played 624 snaps (mostly all at the 3-technique as the under tackle in Rod Marinelli's front) and was bordering on dominant. He finished 2nd in '14 in splash plays with 23.5 - averaging one disruptive play for every 26 snaps he was on the field. His traditional statistics were pedestrian (3 sacks), but anyone watching the team saw that the 24-year old was breaking out while also entering the final year of his small rookie contract in 2015 (4 years/$2.7m).
2015 Summary: The Cowboys pounced on making sure they locked up this bull in the middle of their defensive line to a market-value deal (5/$45m) right as the season was starting. Subsequently, he opened the season with a very solid Week 1 against the Giants before getting hurt against the Eagles in Week 2 with a torn rotator cuff. Crawford continued to play each and every week totaling 706 snaps and grabbing a career-high 5 sacks and 44 tackles. His splash play total fell to 11.5 and just one splash every 61 snaps. His strength had dropped substantially and he was also getting the attention of game plans more often, causing the Cowboys a little bit of contract indigestion. Despite the drop-off in disruption, he continued to labor through the pain and show up every week -- showing incredible toughness -- before going under the knife to repair his shoulder in early January. His recovery is progressing and the Cowboys expect no issues by July. Look at the sack below against the Jets and focus on how much pain Crawford appears to be in after the play.
2016 Analysis: Having Tyrone Crawford healthy is vital as he is one of the few who have demonstrated the ability to be difference makers on the defensive front. Because of the suspensions to Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence, it appears the Cowboys are strongly considering opening the season with Crawford demonstrating his positional versatility by filling defensive end in the month those two pieces are missing. We can debate the merits of that thinking -- moving your most expensive investment on your front 7 to fill in for lesser pieces out of necessity -- but, adding Cedric Thornton to this line might actually allow this idea to work. The Cowboys do have enough players in the front with some level of positional flex (Crawford, Thornton, Jack Crawford) that they might be decent with that look. Regardless, at this age and at this salary, Tyrone Crawford is a vital piece if they can get him back to his dominant 2014 form. And at his current price tag, they are counting on that to happen in 2016.