And Zeke … well, he had thoughts about the move.
“Sucks,” Elliott told reporters Wednesday, per NFL Network’s Jane Slater, stressing that Smith’s departure cannot become a distraction for 3-1 Dallas. “Gotta control what we can control as a team.”
Smith was dumped on Tuesday night, two days after being named defensive captain against the Carolina Panthers, unceremoniously ending a six-year run for the Cowboys’ longtime starter.
“We felt this was the time to do it,” head coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday, per the official team website. “I just think like anything, there’s always factors involved in how you build your 90-man roster. … Jaylon’s an excellent football player. There’s other factors involved in this decision.
“He played good football for us. In my time with him, he totally bought into the new direction of the program and everything we’ve done. The guy practices every single day and plays his ass off. I have nothing but respect for him.”
There was no indication that his pink slip was imminent; after unsuccessfully attempting to trade the 2016 second-round pick, the team made a conscious decision to move on. The “factors” as McCarthy mentioned? Avoiding Smith’s $9.2 million injury guarantee for 2022 and initiating a youth movement at linebacker with rookies Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox.
“That’s part of the business,” Elliott reminded, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “It’s not going to change but I know Jaylon, he’s been thru a lot of adversity so this isn’t anything new to him. He’s been thru tougher obstacles; I think he has some good football left.”
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Zeke Dealing with Knee Injury
Elliott made non-Smith-related headlines Wednesday, missing Dallas’ first practice ahead of its divisional meeting with the New York Giants. The reigning FedEx Ground Player of the Week, who ran for 143 yards and one touchdown against Carolina, revealed he’s experiencing knee discomfort stemming from that effort. Elliott, however, is not concerned over his status for Week 5.
“A lot of the stiffness is gone, so just kind of taking the load off of it, giving it time to heal, get right for this weekend. …Today I feel three times better than I did on Monday,” Elliott told reporters, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
Elliott is expected to return to practice on a limited basis on Thursday, participating in individual drills, and anticipates suiting up Sunday.
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Jaylon’s Packers Contract Official
On Wednesday, less than 24 hours after his release, Smith agreed to join the Green Bay Packers, according to multiple media reports. On Thursday, the marriage was finalized.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Smith inked a one-year pact with Green Bay. Additional terms of the contract are not yet available as of press time. The Cowboys remain on the hook for Smith’s $7.2 million base salary for the 2021 season.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL