The Dallas Cowboys could be seeing a familiar face when they line up against the New York Giants on September 26 for a Monday Night Football clash.
There is always added spice to an NFC East matchup when a player has switched sides, and Dallas is no stranger to that dynamic. Just recently, the Cowboys signed former Philadelphia Eagles legend Jason Peters.
Last season, Dallas had to face off against former second-round pick and linebacker Jaylon Smith. It appears another encounter is on the cards as Smith is rejoining the Giants after a period as a free agent.
“The Giants signed veteran LB Jaylon Smith to their practice squad and released OL KC McDermott,” the Giants’ official editor Dan Salomone Tweeted on September 19.
As the Giants confirm, Smith is currently only on the practice squad. However, it is certainly possible that New York promotes him
Smith has been trying to find his footing in the league since his release from Dallas midway through last season. The linebacker reached Pro Bowl heights with the Cowboys, but the former Notre Dame star’s last two seasons in the league have raised questions about his long-term prospects.
Smith Impresses Early for Cowboys
In Smith’s final game with Notre Dame, the linebacker infamously tore his ACL and MCL, leading to surgery and a major hit to his draft stock. Dallas and owner Jerry Jones weren’t deterred and decided to “buy low” on Smith.
The initial gamble paid off, as the linebacker did not miss a game in his first four seasons and made big plays for the Cowboys. According to Pro Football Reference, Smith had two forced fumbles in each of his first three seasons, and also eclipsed 80 solo tackles in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Smith earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019 thanks to nine passes defended, 2.5 sacks and an interception. Earlier that year, he was extended to a six-year, $68.4 million contract per Spotrac, but that deal ended up aging poorly.
Smith Heads to Packers, Then Giants
2020 was a fine year for Smith, but the arrivals of Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal ahead of the 2021 season signaled red flags for the Cowboys’ linebacker. Aspects of his huge second contract made keeping Smith as a backup or depth option an illogical decision and made it difficult for him to be traded.
As NFL.com shows, Smith was released in October of 2021 and the linebacker was snatched up by the Packers further into the season. However, the linebacker appeared just twice for Green Bay before being released for the second time in 2021, totaling a single tackle and playing just 27 snaps.
He made a bigger impact with New York after being picked up, notching a sack and racking up 12 solo tackles over his four appearances. Smith did start two games for the Giants, but the team did not immediately bring him back for 2022.
The linebacker was a free agent for the entirety of the offseason but is now getting his next chance as New York welcomes him back ahead of their Week 3 battle against the Cowboys.