Cowboys Make Bombshell Roster Move with Jaylon Smith: Report

Jaylon Smith with Cowboys

Getty Jaylon Smith with Cowboys

Jaylon Smith’s time with the Dallas Cowboys has drawn to a close.

As first reported Tuesday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Cowboys are releasing the veteran linebacker in a surprising move few saw coming less than five weeks into the 2021 NFL season.

Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Smith’s release will not become official until Wednesday, meaning a trade involving the former Pro Bowler remains possible — but ultimately unlikely.

“The #Cowboys are moving on from LB Jaylon Smith, as @AdamSchefter reported,” Garafolo wrote on Twitter. “The move isn’t official until tomorrow afternoon, so there’s still the possibility of a trade, though that doesn’t seem very likely.”

ESPN’s Todd Archer added that Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones earlier Tuesday informed Smith of his impending pink slip.

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Reason for Jaylon’s Departure

The Cowboys raised eyebrows earlier this offseason by retaining Smith and thus guaranteeing his $7.2 million base salary for this season, his age-26 campaign. The team also remains on the hook for $9.2 million, the cost of Smith’s injury guarantee for 2022. Thus, the impetus for his release.

“A trade isn’t likely because the #Cowboys have already explored that option, source say, and he has the balance of his $7.2 million base salary for this season plus $9.2 million in injury guarantees next year. The latter part is a huge reason the team is moving on right now,” Garafolo wrote on Twitter.

Echoed NFL Network’s Jane Slater: “Can confirm. My sources tell me the #Cowboys tried unsuccessfully to trade Jaylon Smith. “He did everything we asked him to” 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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Recap of Smith’s Tenure

A 2016 second-round draft pick, the former Notre Dame star ends his Cowboys stint with 516 tackles (317 solo), 20 tackles for loss, 20 pass deflections, 15 quarterback hits, 9.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and two interceptions across 68 appearances (56 starts) since 2017.

Despite being phased out of the 2021 defense — new coordinator Dan Quinn opted for Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal at linebacker — Smith was named defensive captain for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. He finished with one solo tackle across 28 snaps amid the team’s 36-28 win.

Entering Week 5, Smith ranks as the league’s No. 11 LB with a 69.5 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus. “A source said cutting Jaylon Smith was strictly football decision based, ‘nothing negative’ away from the field to prompt this,” reports Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News.

“One source on some of Cowboys players reactions to Jaylon Smith release: ‘They are all shocked,'” Watkins added.


Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL


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James Wallace
James Wallace
1 month ago

He was potentially near the #1 draft choice, until a horrific injury involving severe nerve damage. His medical care, and more importantly, rehab, are beyond inspirational. But the hard facts are at some point teams must decide who can best help them win moving forward, no matter how much progress someone has made. Same Alex Smith. Best to you on your heroic recovery and above average play! I hope the determination you showed in getting to here will serve you well in other days and in other endeavors.

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