This, according to Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com, who reported Wednesday that Dallas was “hoping” to trade the veteran linebacker during last month’s NFL Draft.
The team’s best-laid plans supposedly went astray after prospective suitors “did not like what they saw” upon viewing Smith’s game tape and subsequently “declined to pursue him in a trade.”
Campbell — who also categorized Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson as being on the trade block — reported that Smith still could be moved “in the months to come,” ostensively before the start of the 2021 regular season.
During every NFL draft, teams put veteran players up for trades. League sources say two players who were shopped around this year were Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson and Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith. Both franchises were open to trading away the veterans and were hoping to unload them.
The Cowboys drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th-overall pick, so it isn’t surprising they were looking to unload one of their veteran linebackers. Dallas declined the fifth-year option on Leighton Vander Esch and made it known around the league that Smith was available via trade. Sources said a number of teams had their pro scouts look review Smith’s tape, but they did not like what they saw, so their organizations declined to pursue him in a trade.
Even though Anderson and Smith weren’t traded during the 2021 NFL Draft, the Panthers and Cowboys could continue to consider moving them in the months to come. Teams will start suffering injuries, and that could lead to these veterans being shopped around again before long.
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Cost of Dealing Smith
Under contract through 2025, Smith is due to count $9.8 million against the salary cap this year in his age-26 campaign. The former Pro Bowler backer’s $7.2 million base salary for 2021 became guaranteed on March 21.
Trading Smith after June 1 would create $7.2 million in cap savings, leaving behind $2.6 million in dead money. This is the only realistic way of moving Smith, as Dallas would incur a $9.8 million dead-money charge — with $0 in cap relief — by designating him a post-June 1 cut.
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Smith Reacts to Parsons Pick
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to upgrade their linebacker corps this offseason. Coinciding with Sean Lee’s retirement, the club signed former Falcons safety Keanu Neal in free agency and used two draft picks at the position, including the No. 12 overall choice on ex-Penn State dynamo Micah Parsons.
Parsons is expected to begin his professional career as the starting middle linebacker under new coordinator Dan Quinn. Neal is projected to see extensive time at weakside and dime linebacker, opposite returning veteran Leighton Vander Esch.
This leaves Smith drawing the short straw and has prompted endless speculation surrounding his future with the Cowboys. Nevertheless, he’s taken the writing on the wall in stride, exposing all the right things amid Tuesday’s media availability.
“I think when you talk about Cowboys ownership, it’s about them doing their job and adding talent to make the team better,” Smith said, via the Dallas Morning News. “For me, I’m blessed to have this opportunity.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL