The Jaylon Smith rumors continue to swirl with some speculating the Dallas Cowboys could move on from the former Pro Bowl linebacker. Bleacher Report’s Chris Roling has Smith on his list of top NFL players who enter training camp on the roster bubble.
“The Dallas Cowboys may already regret signing linebacker Jaylon Smith to a six-year, $68.4 million contract extension in August 2019,” Roling explained. “Smith finished with a career-high 154 combined tackles in 2020, but his PFF grade dropped from 70.2 the year prior to a replacement-level 54.2.
“…Much like with Landon Collins, Smith’s contract might be his best hope of staying put. The Cowboys would get zero cap savings by releasing him, although they could carve out $7.2 million by trading him. With Parsons and Cox now in the fray alongside 2018 No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch, Smith may be expendable. If the Cowboys can find a willing trade partner for him, they might prefer giving more snaps to their younger linebackers.”
While it is true Smith is just starting a massive contract, the Cowboys missed their window earlier this offseason to gain any sort of cap benefit by releasing the linebacker. It makes more sense that the Cowboys would hang on to Smith, and potentially explore a mid-season trade at the deadline if the front office wants to move on from his deal. What is true is Smith along with Leighton Vander Esch were very much put on notice after the Cowboys selected linebackers Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox with early picks in the draft.
Smith Is Just 26 Years Old & the Cowboys Are Hoping for a Bounce-Back Season Under Quinn
What has gotten lost in all of the offseason discussion about Smith’s future is the majority of the Cowboys defense struggled last season under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. It was by far the Cowboys’ most disappointing unit in 2020 and the main point of emphasis this offseason. Smith is only 26 years old, and it is within reason to think the linebacker can have a bounce-back season under Dan Quinn. During a February interview with NFL Network, Smith expressed optimism about the defense’s potential under Quinn.
“I actually talked with Dan last week, got a chance to chop it up for a while,” Smith said. “Just talking about what we’re trying to accomplish and what’s in store. I’m excited to get after it, man. He’s a guy around the league that everyone loves. Very energetic, he’s proven that he can win, and he’s going to get some guys that are locked in and ready to bounce back. Looking forward to it.”
Jones Referred to Smith as a ‘Cornerstone’ for the Cowboys
Smith appears to have the backing of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as evidenced by his massive contract. Last season, Jones referred to Smith as one of the Cowboys’ “cornerstones.”
“We don’t have a player out there that doesn’t have things that he doesn’t want to improve on and can be better,” Jones noted in November, per DallasCowboys.com. “But, boy, I’m glad we got him. He’s one of our cornerstones and he’ll get better and better and better. …I’m glad we got Jaylon Smith, and I’m glad we got him for sure on the basis that we got him. He really has so much that he brings to our defense.”