Jaylon Smith started the week by helping the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Carolina Panthers but the linebacker will be in a Green Bay Packers uniform on Sunday. Life comes at you fast in the NFL, and Smith remained quiet in the 24 hours following the Cowboys surprisingly releasing him just a month into the season. Once news of his move to the Packers broke, Smith took to Instagram to briefly thank the Cowboys and emphasize that his mind is focused on the future.
“Just remember that God got chu. Live and Love 🧡👑 Thankyou Dallas #ClearEyeView,” Smith said on October 7 while posting a black-and-white photo of himself in a Cowboys uniform.
Here is a look at Smith’s heartfelt Instagram post.
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LeFleur Coached at Notre Dame When Smith Was a Standout College Player for the Irish
Smith goes from a crowded Cowboys linebacker group to joining the Packers where he is expected to ‘start immediately’ on the defense, per NFL.com’s Nick Shook. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Packers showed immediate interest in adding Smith as Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur was a Notre Dame coach when the linebacker was a standout player in college.
“The Packers had a recruiting battle, with money not much of an issue (because the Cowboys are paying most of his 2021 salary). They brought it home,” Rapoport tweeted on October 6. “The deal won’t be official until tomorrow morning. But Jaylon Smith had indicated Green Bay is where he wants to be. And the Packers beef up their LB corps with a former Pro Bowler.”
McCarthy Described the Release of Smith as a ‘Big Picture’ Move
When asked about Smith’s release, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy did not cite one specific reason for the decision. McCarthy described it as a “big picture” move to part ways with Smith.
“We just felt that this is the best time to make this decision,” McCarthy told reporters on October 6. “Obviously, there’s not really ever a good time for these type of decisions but basically just with all the factors involved is why the decision was made yesterday. …I’m not gonna get in all the specifics of it. I mean, this is a big-picture roster move. So, it goes [as] far as us moving forward, we just felt that this was the right time.”
The Cowboys Did Not Want to Be Responsible for Smith’s Salary in 2022
McCarthy may not have wanted to get into the specifics, but there were clear reasons for Smith’s release starting with his six-year, $68.4 million contract that was slated to run through 2024. The Cowboys did not want to be on the hook for Smith’s 2022 salary which would have kicked in if the linebacker sustained a season-ending injury.
Finally, Micah Parsons’ emergence made Smith more expendable and the team likely wanted to get fellow rookie Jabril Cox more snaps as well. CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker explained why the Cowboys made the move despite such curious timing.
“It’s true the Cowboys could’ve made this move sooner and potentially saved themselves millions, and no one should excuse them for that error in judgment, but with so many new faces joining the defense in both free agency and the draft, they were hedging their bet that Smith would be insurance against a slow start from the incoming group of talent,” Walker detailed. “But given just how stellar their rookie defensive class has been along with their veteran additions, plus the coming return of several players from injured reserve that will require roster space to be freed up, it no longer made sense from a personnel perspective to keep Smith around.”