Dez Bryant Calls Out Cowboys for Cutting Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith, Dez Bryant

Getty Jaylon Smith, Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant knows a thing or two about getting cut by the Dallas Cowboys, and unceremoniously at that.

Such is why, perhaps, Bryant offered a strong, sympathetic message on behalf of now-former Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who was released Tuesday night.

“I understand it’s a business but you don’t mess with a team whenever everything going right…” Bryant tweeted.

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Nothing Personal …

To Dez’s point, Dallas currently is 3-1 having won three consecutive games, a streak aided by surprisingly stout defensive play under new coordinator Dan Quinn. The team ranks sixth-best against the run thanks in large part to the emergence of top rookie LB Micah Parsons, whose immediate impact relegated Smith and fellow veteran Leighton Vander Esch to bit roles on early downs.

Still, Smith and Vander Esch are tied for third on the Cowboys with 18 tackles apiece. And the former has graded out through four weeks as the NFL’s No. 11 ‘backer according to Pro Football Focus, which assigned Smith a 69.5 overall rating. At the very least, he came in handy after starting weakside LB Keanu Neal missed two games on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Werder reported that Smith’s release was “contractual” in nature; the Cowboys did not want to remain on the hook for his $9.2 million injury guarantee in 2022. The organization, however, will be forced to pay Smith’s $7.2 million base salary for 2021, which they fully guaranteed earlier this offseason.

NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported Dallas tried to trade Smith prior to issuing his pink slip. Despite unsuccessful attempts, the club was deadset in its intention to become younger and more explosive at the position, featuring Parsons and fourth-round rookie LB Jabril Cox.

“‘He did everything we asked him to,'” a Cowboys source told Slater, “but ultimately the play of guys like Keanu Neal, Leighton Vander Esch and I’m told perhaps increased use now of Jabril Cox led to the move.

“Given his play this season. Also found it surprising but I can tell you there have been frustrations and I was told ‘it was just time to move on.'”

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Heavy-Handed Reaction Rolls In

To Cowboys media and fans alike, the surprise isn’t that Smith was chopped. It’s when he was chopped: on the slowest news day of the weekly NFL calendar. And not, say, months ago.

“#Cowboys wound up paying $20.2 million to Jaylon Smith for what amounted to four additional games. Could have escaped some of that this March. Just a bizarre series of events,” tweeted Jason Fitzgerald of

Bryant, mentioned previously, is among a vocal minority to adopt a critical posture against Dallas over Smith’s departure. Although, some believe the abrupt timing and significant money-eating are attached to ulterior motives unrelated to the salary cap.

“Jaylon Smith hasn’t been playing well, but he definitely hasn’t been playing, *I’ll pay you 7.2 million dollars NOT to play*, bad. There’s gotta be more here!” tweeted former Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

Most others are willing to accept Smith being released for its face value — a personnel-driven transaction in a cutthroat industry that deifies the dollar sign.

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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