Giants Urged to Take Low-Risk Flyer on Ex-Cowboys $64 Million Pro Bowler

Giants urged to sign ex-Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Getty Free agent linebacker Jaylon Smith.

After a rocky start to their 2021 NFL campaign, the New York Giants defense has since come around, flashing the upside they put on display for much of last season. Despite ranking 22nd in total defense, the Giants have allowed just 314.7 yards per game over their last three contests — eighth-fewest in the NFL. That includes matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders, two teams ranked within the top-seven of total offense.

Most impressive, the unit has managed their surge in play despite the loss of one of the league’s elite middle linebackers in Blake Martinez. The unquestioned quarterback of Big Blue’s defense, and the only player in NFL history to finish top-three in tackles in four consecutive seasons, Martinez was lost to a season-ending torn ACL in Week 3.

Tae Crowder and Reggie Ragland have mostly shouldered the load at linebacker in Martinez’s absence. However, neither have thoroughly impressed. In mid-October, the team kicked the tires on former Texans Pro Bowler Benardrick McKinney. Yet, thus far he’s been a minimal factor, playing no more than 28 defensive snaps in any of his three game appearances. With limited production and seemingly little upside at the position, Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes the Giants would be wise to take a flyer on former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith in hopes that he can recapture his 2019 Pro Bowl form:

Some front office is bound to think its coaching staff can still get the most out of linebacker Jaylon Smith. Does he have anything left, though? It’s an interesting question because two different organizations have given up on him within the past month…

If Smith remains healthy, he can look to revive his career elsewhere. The New York Giants might be an ideal landing spot. New York already lost its starting middle linebacker, Blake Martinez, to a season-ending torn ACL. Neither Tae Crowder nor Reggie Ragland is performing at a high level.

Why not take a flier on Smith when few coaches would know the 26-year-old as well as Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett does? After all, Garrett served as Smith’s head coach for the first four years of his NFL career.


Giants Had Rumored Interest in Smith After Cowboys Release

Smith’s star has drastically fallen since his Cowboys release — pun intended. A fairly sought-after in-season free-agent after parting ways with Dallas, Smith drew rumored interest from the Giants before ultimately latching on with the Green Bay Packers in early October, per Clarence Hill of Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The move to Wisconsin was seen as a welcomed addition for a Packers linebacker corps lacking in talent. However, Smith failed to separate himself from the likes of Krys Barnes and De’Vondre Campbell and once again struggled with missed tackles — something that plagued him during the latter end of his Cowboys tenure. Smith’s stint in Wisconsin lasted just two games, as the former Notre Dame standout was released after playing just 27 defensive snaps. 

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Low-Risk, High-Reward?

There’s no denying Smith’s play has deteriorated at a rapid pace. However, at just 26 years of age, there’s little downside in taking a low-risk flyer on a player who just two seasons ago inked a $64 million extension with Dallas. His free agent interest has plummeted since his Green Bay release, making any negative financial implications from a Giants perspective essentially non-existent.

In 70 career games (56 starts), Smith has amassed 517 total tackles, 9.0 sacks, five fumble recoveries, 20 passes defended and two interceptions.

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