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Cut, keep, or trade? Examining the Dallas Cowboys options regarding Jaylon Smith

What should the Dallas Cowboys do with Jaylon Smith?

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Like it or not, Jaylon Smith has become the most polarizing player for the Dallas Cowboys. His steady decline in play and hefty contract have turned him into one of the most controversial players around Cowboys Nation and many fans are ready to pull the plug.

The sad truth is No. 9 is no longer needed after the Dallas Cowboys signed Keanu Neal and drafted both Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox this year. Because of that, and his declining play, he could be looking at playing a backup role at best in 2021. That is, of course, assuming he makes the final 53-man roster.

We discussed the Jaylon Smith situation among a variety of topics on the latest episode of Talkin’ The Star. Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network (Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here) so you don’t miss any of our episodes!

Believe it or not, but the Dallas Cowboys to have options as it pertains to Smith’s status with the team this year. They can cut, keep, or trade him depending on what they believe to be the best long-term solution for the organization.

Can or will the Dallas Cowboys cut Jaylon Smith?

Can or will are two different things entirely, especially as it pertains to the Cowboys cutting Smith. The Cowboys can technically cut any player on the roster, but that doesn’t mean they will. There are certain things that have to be taken into consideration and in No. 9’s case it’s all about the money.

Due to the contract extension Smith received from the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, he will have a salary-cap number of $9.8 million in 2021. Smith’s base salary of $7.2 million became fully guaranteed on March 21 after the Cowboys let the deadline to cut him slip by. That’s entirely too much money to eat if he’s cut this season, even for a non-starter.

To keep or not to keep, that isn’t really a question

Knowing the financial ramifications of what would happen if the Cowboys cut Smith, we can all probably agree keeping him is the better option. He may be fourth on the depth chart with Jabril Cox pushing from behind, but he does provide valuable experience as a one-time starter in a backup role.

Smith may have fallen from the top to the bottom of the totem pole among the Cowboys linebackers this year, but his current financial situation all but guarantees him a roster spot. In hindsight, Dallas would likely have cut him before his base salary became fully guaranteed, but that’s neither here nor there now. They made their bed, now they have to sleep in it.

Should Jaylon Smith be put on the trade block?

Putting Smith on the trade block and facilitating a trade with another team is probably the only way No. 9 doesn’t play with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. Financially speaking, the Cowboys may have to do some finagling to make this work, perhaps paying some of his salary to move him, but it’s absolutely doable if they can find a trade partner.

Therein lies the problem. Smith has seen a steady decline in play over the past few seasons and it hasn’t gone unnoticed around the league. He no longer plays like the Pro Bowler he was in 2019 (even that year was not really Pro Bowl caliber), but despite that, there may be a team out there willing to take a chance he still has it in him. If so, completing a trade would be best long-term for the Cowboys.