We have spoken a couple of times since this past weekend about how things should be happening in a predictably busy fashion for the Dallas Cowboys sometime soon. The Cowboys are readying to pay Dak Prescott, either by way of a long-term contract extension or the franchise tag. Somehow, some way, they are going to need to figure something out with Prescott.
It is for this reason that we have been forecasting the restructuring of contracts and possible cap casualties for the Cowboys. Some soon-to-be releases and/or decisions feel more obvious than others, but there are always surprises around this time of year.
One move that many have been wondering about is whether or not the Cowboys would release linebacker Jaylon Smith. He signed a long-term extension with the club not even two years ago, but his level of play has been on a downward trajectory.
Jaylon Smith is reportedly not among those who the Dallas Cowboys are considering cutting to clear cap space
Cutting Smith can save over $7M in cap space if the Cowboys designate him a post-June 1st cut, but parting ways with Smith is not something that the Cowboys have wanted to do based on their public comments. During his weekly appearances on the radio throughout the season, Jerry Jones routinely defended Smith which, some argued, did more harm than good.
Perhaps now the Cowboys would be able to stomach that they made a mistake with Smith by extending him. At the current moment, it doesn’t see like that is the case. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Smith is not among those players the Cowboys are considering cutting this offseason.
The Cowboys are considering ways to clear cap room through contract restructures and releases.
But one option that is not on the table is the cutting of maligned linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to a source.
While Smith’s play has drawn increasing criticism from fans and media, the Cowboys don’t share same dour opinion, said the source.
Coach Mike McCarthy expressed a similar sentiment after the 2020 season ended with Smith leading the Cowboys with 154 tackles, a tally that placed him third in the NFL.
“The fact that he lines up every day, the fact that he practices hard every day, plays hard, I thought he gave us some big-time, productive games,” McCarthy said. “I think he’s probably one of the ones that was challenged the most as far as the scheme change. I just love his approach and the way he’s gone about it.”
From a housekeeping standpoint, the Cowboys will have the opportunity to put some substance behind their opinion over the next month by their continued inaction on Smith.
If they don’t make a move with him to create cap room for Prescott by March 9, then the next date of interest will be March 21, the fifth day of the league’s year and the day Smith’s 2021 base salary of $7.2 million becomes fully guaranteed.
There is no doubt that Smith has a lot of passion for the game of football and for the Dallas Cowboys, but his play is the ultimate decider. When asked about his status after the season officially ended for the Cowboys - partly thanks to one of the worst defenses in franchise history - he provided a response that seemed a bit disconnected from his performance throughout the year. He questioned whether the question was serious about himself (as in there being any possibility of him being elsewhere in 2021), and challenged the questioner to “watch the film” as a defense of the idea that he is currently playing at a satisfactory level.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith on if he expects to be back next season: “Me? I mean, watch the film. ... The guys that know football and know our scheme and watch film, um, I don’t have to speak on myself. It’s all love.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) January 3, 2021
To some Cowboys fans Smith exemplifies an issue that is currently too widespread within the team, that as long as Jerry Jones is happy then all is well within America’s Team.
How do we know that Smith even feels this way? Consider that he said it himself when the Cowboys saw their game against the San Francisco 49ers flexed out of Sunday Night Football (the first time this ever happened to the Cowboys in the current SNF era) in favor of a matchup between the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants.
Again, what matters on the field is the most important thing here, but it’s not like the most recent version of Smith is something that lives up to the hype in that department. The Cowboys have a lot of decisions to make at linebacker this season including whether or not they are going to pick up the fifth-year option on Leighton Vander Esch, and while words said in February are nothing to take to the bank, it seems they might be leaning one way on Jaylon Smith.
Should the Cowboys cut Jaylon Smith?
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