Jaylon Smith Not Worried About Extension With Cowboys

Getty Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith

Drafting well and having a depth chart filled with young, talented players is proving to be both a blessing and a curse for the Dallas Cowboys.

Talks this offseason around the team have centered around laundry list of contracts that are coming due, most notable for the Cowboy’s big three on the offensive side of the ball: running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Of the three, Prescott and Cooper are the most urgent, as the team has a little more flexibility with Elliott, having already picked up his 2020 option. Prescott and Cooper could both be free agents next offseason if deals aren’t worked out.

On the defensive side of the ball, Pro Bowl corner Byron Jones is also due for a deal and the team already compensated defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence this offseason with the richest deal in franchise history for five years and $105 million.

But a name not many are bringing in terms of an extension is fourth-year inside linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Jaylon Smith Not Worried About Extension With Cowboys

GettyDallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Smith will be a restricted free agent next offseason but he’s not sweating contract talks. The Notre Dame product has made a resounding return from a devastating knee injury in the final game of his college career, which gave him some perspective on “embracing” the ride.

“For me it’s just about embracing the season I’m in,” Smith said during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “My redshirt year when I was recovering, I embraced it. My first year back, you know what I mean, I wasn’t 100 percent. I learned every week, I embraced that season. Last season was a phenomenal year of returning to the elite player I am. I embraced it.”

Following being picked by the Cowboys in the second round 2016 draft and missing all of his rookie season recovering from a knee injury and lingering nerve damage, Smith returned to the field in 2017 to collect 81 tackles. Last season, Smith racked up 121 tackles, four sacks and a fumble return TD. Smith knows if he continues on his current path, his time to be paid will come.

“When it’s time for Jerry to cut the check, it will happen,” Smith said. “I just have to embrace where I’m at. I’m blessed for sure.”

Smith had a similar sentiment when asked if head coach Jason Garrett being on the last year of his deal was something that motivated the team.

“Every game we treat like it’s our last game. There’s no promises to any of this,” Smith said. “We have to attack each and every day, and each every play and each and every game like it’s our last. I doubt Jason Garrett is worried about any of that because of how he’s wired.”

Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch Are the NFL’s Best LB Combo

Jaylon Smith

GettyDallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith

Smith has recent to be confident. The heart of the Dallas defense is the best in the league, according to rankings released by Pro Football Focus.

Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were rated PFF’s top linebacker tandem in the NFL — and it wasn’t close. According to the site, the Dallas duo graded out at 84.4 (Smith) and 84.9 (Vander Esch). Their respective grades ranked sixth and fifth among all NFL linebackers last year. The Cowboys were the only team to have two top 10 linebackers.

Vander Esch made the Pro Bowl after a rookie season where he collected 140 tackles. PFF pegged the “Wolf Hunter” as one of only four linebackers who earned grades north of 80.0 in both run defense and coverage.

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