Jets Trading for Cowboys Pro Bowl Linebacker Is Worthwhile Gamble

Jaylon Smith Cowboys

Getty Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith celebrating after a huge play.

The New York Jets are going to be aggressive to fill the remaining roster holes ahead of the season opener.

One of the ways they’ll be able to do this is through the trade market.

There are a lot of different ways to get things done. Some teams right before they’re going to release a player will call around the league to see if anyone wants first dibs.

If that situation were to present itself, the Jets are armed with three sixth-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft. They could easily send one of those along to make sure they get a player they want as opposed to hoping they can get that player through waivers.

Gang Green pulled this off a few years ago when they originally acquired veteran offensive lineman Alex Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens. Before they released him to the open waters, general manager Joe Douglas made a call and secured the move.

That move ended working out great. Lewis played in 24 games in two years for the Jets and all they had to give up was a conditional seventh-round pick.

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A Rare Opportunity Has Presented Itself

Gregg Rosenthal of wrote a column where he broke down the most notable players that could be cut or traded ahead of the season opener.

One of the names on his list was Dallas Cowboys linebacker, Jaylon Smith.

The former Notre Dame star is buried on the depth chart at linebacker. Dallas drafted Micah Parsons out of Penn State in the first round and they took Jabril Cox out of LSU in the fourth round.

On top of that, they also signed veteran Keanu Neal in free agency who will be making the conversion from safety to linebacker. In addition to all of those new players, they also had several key holdovers including Leighton Vander Esch and the aforementioned Smith.

All of that movement has resulted in the talented linebacker ending up on the bench. During the preseason, Smith was playing behind both Parsons and Neal.

Things could get pretty weird if the fifth-highest cap hit player on the Dallas roster was a bench warmer during the regular season. It also would be strange since Smith is a former team captain for Big D.

Worthwhile Investment at a Critical Position

The Jets’ issues at linebacker have been well documented this offseason. Their three projected starters right now are Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, and CJ Mosley.

Jarrad Davis is also out at a minimum until Week 6, if not longer, because of a leg injury.

Smith would be a phenomenal addition with his star power, athleticism, and leadership ability. The younger players at the position could learn so much from him and absorb things on and off the field.

What would it cost?

That’s where we get to the best part of this. In that same Rosenthal article, he suggested that “the Cowboys could probably find a taker for a late-round pick if they are willing to pay some of Smith’s guaranteed $7.2 million base salary.”

So the Jets could acquire a 26-year old linebacker at a bargain price at a key position of need? It almost sounds too good to be true.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated “was surprised” that Smith is still on the Cowboys roster this late in August. He fell out of favor with the previous coaching staff and didn’t play well in 2020, along with the rest of the Dallas defense.

Speaking of coaching, a potential pairing with the Jets would return Smith to a defense he’s comfortable with and had the best years of his career.

To put it simply, the former golden domer is a playmaker:

  • Six forced fumbles
  • Nine sacks
  • Five fumble recoveries
  • Played in over 64 career games
  • Registered over 498 tackles in four professional seasons
  • 20 pass deflections
  • 20 quarterback hits

Smith is a rangy linebacker that brings elite speed, instincts, and unique playmaking ability. This would be the literal definition of a low risk (late-round pick and paying partial salary) vs high reward (long-term starter). If it doesn’t work out you can simply get yourself out of the contract a year from now.

Breer would go on to say that if someone called about Smith, Dallas would be “all ears.”

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