Cowboys Linked to Promising Ex-Panthers LB After Loss of Young Talent

Brandon Smith

Getty Former Carolina Panthers linebacker Brandon Smith.

The Dallas Cowboys elected to move on from two young talents during 53-man roster cuts, but the team could sign a former Carolina Panthers LB as a new project. The release of both Jabril Cox and Isaiah Land was a surprise for some Cowboys fans, but there is an opportunity for Dallas to invest elsewhere.

Blogging the Boys analyst Brian Martin recently explored the idea of the Cowboys signing the Panthers’ 2022 fourth-round pick Brandon Smith. Smith was recently released during cuts, but has a unique athletic profile and could be a like-for-like signing.

“The Penn State LB was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and a former teammate of Cowboys superstar Micah Parsons. Reuniting the two in Dallas could be mutually beneficial for all parties concerned,” Martin writes. “Now, one of the reasons Brandon Smith was released by the Panthers is because he’s still pretty raw in his technique and would need further development before he could potentially be relied upon. But, so were both Isaiah Land and Jabril Cox.”

Dallas knew the risks of releasing Land and Cox and that they could be picked up on waivers, which is exactly what happened. If Dallas is looking for a developmental project, Smith could be a good fit.

Smith Released by Panthers

Anytime a player drafted in Day 1 or 2 of an NFL draft is released a year or so later, it’s a bit of a surprise. Teams will stick with young talent if they can due to their cheap contracts and potential, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. That appears to be the case with Smith.

As Martin mentioned, Smith played his college ball at Penn State alongside Micah Parsons. Smith was clearly talented, but a look at Sports Reference showed why he’s still very much a work in progress.

The former Nittany Lion LB played 28 games while in Happy Valley, totaling four sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He also chipped in an interception and six passes defended. That is an impressive return, but 28 games before hitting the NFL level is maybe a bit short of average.

There’s clearly a player worth investing in, but his release from Carolina shows that they don’t currently believe that he’s worth the effort. In his lone season with the Panthers, Smith played just 53 defensive snaps and had 8 total tackles over the season.

Cowboys Rookie Picked Up by Colts

Cox’s presence around the team for the past two seasons has meant he’s a bit more familiar to Cowboys fans, but some may not have realized that Dallas had signed Land and the potential he has.

An undrafted free agent, Land impressed at Florida A&M. The Tallahassee Democrat states that Land totaled a whopping 27.5 sacks over his last two seasons, 19.5 of those coming in his junior year.

There’s no question that the FAMU product has talent, but Dallas was going to be a tough place for Land to find a spot considering their plethora of edge rushers. Losing him to the waiver wire may end up coming back to bite the Cowboys, but he did jump conferences to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.