The Cleveland Browns are undermanned at the linebacker position and could take a swing for the fences by trading for Dallas Cowboys standout Jaylon Smith.
Smith appears to be on the block in Dallas with the arrival of standout rookie Micah Parsons and the Cowboys need to find a linebacker-needy team willing to take on his contract. Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey pitched the Browns as a possible landing spot for Smith, filling a hole for a team that many see as a Super Bowl contender.
The Browns are already set up front with Myles Garrett, but if they could bring in another tenacious defender to the front seven, their championship hopes could rise.
Acquiring Smith will not be an easy task for any team since he is under contract until 2025. Dallas is within its rights to ask for a significant return since it dished out a six-year, $68 million contract to the 26-year-old.
If Dallas is looking to get out of Smith’s contract and play Micah Parsons more at linebacker, Cleveland should at least take notice since every defensive weapon will be needed to slow down Buffalo and Kansas City.
Other players linked to the Browns in the article included Steelers receiver James Washington and and Jets pass-catcher Jamison Crowder.
Smith Tuning Out Critics Amid Speculation
Smith seemed like a lock to be a long-term piece in Dallas until last year, when the defense faltered and he personally had a down season. The former second-round pick out of Notre Dame graded out at just 54.2 on Pro Football Focus — well below average. Smith has been trying to tune out the noise.
“I mean, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to have criticism,” Smith said, via ESPN. “Michael Jordan had criticism. LeBron James, some of the best players in the world have criticism. That’s just a part of the game. But you got to control what you can control. And for me, it’s just focused on my development and becoming a better player.”
Smith saw more snaps in Week 2 after a tough 2021 debut, getting on the field for 54 plays. He played just 16 snaps in the Cowboys’ opening loss to Tampa Bay.
Browns Missing Anthony Walker
The Browns currently have three linebackers on injured reserve, including key starter Anthony Walker, who landed on IR prior to the game against Houston with a hamstring injury. He’ll miss a minimum of three games.
Walker was not only a force with his production and leadership on the field, but he is also the team’s defensive play-caller.
“He did a nice job. He is a big part of what we do,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said of Walker. “Obviously schematically, Xs and Os, he is a big part of who we are. He is a great leader. He is going to continue to lead, even though he is not playing. He is going to support his teammates.”
With Walker out and Sione Takitaki “week-to-week” with a hamstring injury, the Browns are relying on veteran Malcolm Smith to eat up a lot of the reps. He played 58 snaps last week and nabbed a momentum-swinging interception.
The Browns defense hasn’t been overly impressive but Smith — a former Super Bowl MVP — thinks they’re putting it together.
“It is a challenging league, especially nowadays there are a lot of moving parts. You have to adjust. Even within a game, you have to adjust,” Smith said this week. “We are getting there. We are working on it.”
The Browns are a touchdown-favorite against the Bears this week.