Jaylon Smith has had an up-and-down career with the Dallas Cowboys so far. No one can question his heart, as he has worked all the way back from a gruesome knee injury and has had a significant amount of success in Dallas. However, he has not quite lived up to the massive contract extension he received a couple of years ago. This has led to there being some speculation on whether Jerry Jones and the Cowboys could actually cut Jaylon Smith or not. Well, one report is giving a little clarity to Smith about his future with the Cowboys.
Jaylon Smith has not lived up to his massive contract with the Cowboys
Jaylon Smith fell to the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft after suffering a brutal knee injury while playing for Notre Dame. Smith then missed his rookie season but has played in every game since.
After missing that rookie year, Smith played really well in his first of couple of seasons back on the field. He even received a massive six-year, $68 million contract extension from the Cowboys, according to Sports Illustrated. However, despite recording 154 total tackles in 2020, many people don’t believe that Smith has lived up to that huge contract.
Some of us at Sportscasting don’t actually watch every snap of Cowboys football. So, here is what people who do, in fact, watch every play have to say about Smith.
John Owning of The Dallas Morning News said this when discussing the Cowboys potentially drafting linebacker Micah Parsons.
“The Cowboys already have a downhill hammer at linebacker who’s a slightly slow processor and struggles in coverage in Jaylon Smith,” he wrote.
Smith — who made $13.1 million in 2020, according to Spotrac — allowed 71.2% of passes to be completed when targeted this past season, which was No. 169 in the NFL. He also allowed 10.4 receiving yards per reception, which was No. 111 in the NFL.
Some more analysis on Smith’s play comes from Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com. He put a lot of the responsibility on Smith as to why the Cowboys’ defense struggled as a whole.
“The Cowboys struggled on so many levels defensively last season, and Smith – the quarterback of the defense, handling most of the calls – obviously had a role in that,” he wrote. “Opponents challenged the defense’s communication and gap integrity with pre-snap motion and misdirection, and it was a problem for stretches throughout the season, particularly in run defense, where the Cowboys gave up the second-most yards in franchise history.”
The Cowboys reportedly have a plan for their LB’s future
With Jaylon Smith not quite living up to his deal with the Cowboys yet, some people have speculated on whether Jerry Jones’ team should cut him or not.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys would create $7.2 million in cap room by cutting Smith. This could help them greatly, as they reportedly have about $17.5 million in cap room. However, it appears that cutting Jaylon Smith isn’t an option for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys.
According to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, while the Cowboys “are considering ways to clear cap room through contract restructures and releases,” a source says that cutting Smith is not one of those options.
No, this isn’t a definite answer about Smith’s future, but it appears that he isn’t going anywhere at least for now.
Jaylon Smith still has a lot of potential
No, Jaylon Smith hasn’t lived up to his contract yet. Yes, some fans may want the Cowboys to move on from the former Notre Dame star. However, he has still shown that he has a ton of potential.
Smith has recorded over 120 total tackles in each of the last three seasons. He has also increased his total number of tackles in every season of his career. Additionally, after finishing tied for sixth in total tackles during the 2019 season — which helped him earn Pro Bowl honors — Smith finished No. 2 in the NFL in total tackles in 2020 with 154.
Jaylon Smith has certainly struggled with the Cowboys, and the team’s defense was horrible in 2020. He has the potential and work ethic, though, to turn things around.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference