While every Texas Tech football fan is quick to gush about Pat Mahomes’ success in the NFL, one of Mahomes’ former Red Raider teammates, Terence Steele, is quietly putting together a strong career of his own at the highest level of the game. On Sunday it was reported by multiple outlets that the Dallas Cowboys have agreed to sign the right tackle to a five-year contract extension worth up to $91.8 million.
What’s even better for Steele is that $50 million of that contract is guaranteed, something that is critical in NFL contracts given how easy it is for teams to cut players in that league.
The deal comes less than a calendar year after Steele tore a ligament in his knee causing him to miss the final six games of the Cowboys’ most recent season. Fortunately, the San Antonio native has rebounded quickly from that injury and will be ready to start the season as the Cowboys take on the New York Giants next Sunday night.
It’s been an improbable rise for Steele in the NFL. He went undrafted in 2020 and signed with Dallas as a free agent. That meant that he had an uphill climb to earn a roster spot given that undrafted rookie free agents are rather disposable in the NFL.
However, an injury to Dallas’ presumed starting right tackle, La’el Collins, as well as an injury to his backup, Cameron Irving, forced Steele into a starting role as a rookie in week one. That year he started 14 games for the Cowboys and while he took some lumps, he proved to the organization that he could be a valuable asset.
Then, when Collins was suspended to begin the 2021 campaign, Steele again stepped into the starting role. That year he would make 13 starts for the Cowboys helping them win the NFC East and reach the playoffs.
Last season was the first in which Dallas decided to hand the full-time right tackle job over to the former Red Raider in the offseason. Starting every game until injuring his knee against the Houston Texans, Steele showed noticeable improvement and became a reliable pass blocker as well as one of the best run-blocking tackles in the league. He paired with right guard and future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Zach Martin to form the best run-blocking guard/tackle combo in the NFL while helping Dallas reach the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.
Though Steele’s success on Sundays has taken some by surprise given his undrafted status, he did have quite the pedigree coming out of college. A two-time honorable-mention All-Big 12 honoree, he was a four-year starter who appeared in 47 games including 12 as a redshirt freshman in 2016 when he blocked for Mahomes as the Red Raider QB amassed over 5,000 yards passing.
Now, it appears that Steele will be one of the foundational pieces to Dallas’ future as the Cowboys continue to strive for an elusive sixth Super Bowl title. It’s a great success story for one of the more successful but under-the-radar Texas Tech football alums in the NFL.