Cowboys Releasing Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith
Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The Dallas Cowboys have decided to release linebacker Jaylon Smith. The move will be official on Wednesday unless Dallas can find a last-minute trade partner.

A second-round draft pick in 2017, Smith started six games as a rookie, then started every game from 2018 through 2020. This year, he started in Weeks 2 and 3, but came off the bench in Weeks 1 and 4, losing playing time to Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal.

Per Mike Garafolo, the Cowboys still owe Smith more than $7 million for the rest of the season, but releasing him now gets them off the hook for more than $9 million in injury guarantees in 2022. 

The release comes 14 months after Smith signed a five-year contract extension

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Comments

13 comments, Last at 10 Oct 2021, 1:01pm

1 Yiiiiiiiikes.

$9.8m dead this year and $6.8m next.

69.5 grade this year isn't that bad though. 

Yeah, too much of something is real. Don't know why they decided to pay Keanu Neal, move him (fully) to LB and...he's not even playing well at it? 46.6 grade (62nd/81). Then they drafted Parsons and Cox. Not to mention LVE was already on the team. And LVE is doing even worse??? 42.7 grade (67th).

Doesn't seem like it was smart planning. Or...rectifying. Scared of the injury guarantee so why not just play him less??

Green Bay should take a look.

2 Thanks for posting the…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Thanks for posting the grades; I'd just assumed his play had fallen way off when I heard the news but it seems that's not the case (I only saw the Cowboys play the Chargers this year and he didn't really stand out, good or bad). This is very strange and I can't help but wonder if there's something more behind the scenes. Otherwise this seems to be a huge mistake (if I'm reading OTC correctly, cutting Vander Esch would've been much more palateable financially, if it's just a roster crunch issue): they could always keep him around in case of injury, or trade a cheaper LB for help elsewhere. Very weird.

7 Lowlights hurt

perception. But man, if this isn't a warning sign of paying LBs

They might think LVE gets a comp pick? Idk seems silly, because he the moment they drafted Cox and Parsons and declined his option doesnt help.

4 It's true Smith has had…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

It's true Smith has had something of a rebound year so far albeit in a much limited role. But this is about saving money for next year, and also I would not count on Smith keeping up that grade going forward. He is still given to making poor reads and taking awful angles. Team gets a clean break from LVE after this season anyway. Quinn is high on Neal, and it should be noted Neal’s grades are only from 1.5 games before he got injured (1.5 games against the best offenses Dallas has faced so far), so Quinn may not be wrong (though I have been more underwhelmed by Neal than the average Cowboy fan).

5 But if it's about saving…

But if it's about saving money for next year, why on earth would they cut him in early October? If he's not totally washed and they don't desperately need the roster spot, why not keep using him. Especially if Vander Esch is a goner next year anyway, why not cut him instead?

6 Jason explains it well

Dangers of paying LBs and still doesnt make sense to do this. 

It's limited but still over 55%. Might not keep it up but that seems like a weird bet to make the cheaper, worse playing guys will be the ones to rebound (and surpass Smith) even more.

Weird bets all around. Can't hold onto him a little longer to increase his trade value, other teams LBs get hurt and get something? Cut him in the offseason if not able? 

3 I expect an extra point in a…

I expect an extra point in a minute, but the Pats are also apparently releasing Gilmore.

This all seems...odd. Is there some roster deadline or something I don't know about?

8 Jaylon

I think it comes down to a few factors. First and foremost, anybody that has watched the team regularly knows how big of a liability he's been on the field the last couple years. Constantly out of position, slow in changing direction, struggles in coverage, can't get off a block to save his life, etc. The Cowboys would've cut him this off-season if not for his salary being guaranteed for injury after having wrist surgery.

And that is where the reason behind the cut really comes into focus. Yes, they are deep at the position and are getting some guys back healthy this week, but the real fear was that he would get hurt again and his salary for 2022 would be fully guaranteed for injury. He may have improved slightly this year in a limited role, but he's certainly not worth his contract and would be an even bigger weight around their salary cap necks next year.

9 Update"

Going to GB. Thankfully. Maybe he'll stop the Krys cult

10 I would have been more…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I would have been more excited before a bunch of Cowboys fans explained how much he sucks.

11 Nobody's perfect

especially those cut. But most LBs suck outside of a few. It's about just finding someone better and he is compared to Summers, Burks, Barnes. And that's why I'm excited.

12 I never got why everybody…

I never got why everybody turned on Leighton Vander Esch. I watched him in a few games, at least one against the rams, and the guy lept off the screen. Like the Aaron Donald of LB’s level of good.

Some years go by, and now everyone’s telling me how much he sucks, and the Cowboys are declining his fourth year option. Was there some serious of knee injuries or something?