ESPN’s Adam Schefter let us know about a bit of a surprise in-season move a bit over a week ago: LB Jaylon Smith was released from the Dallas Cowboys. However, this isn’t the whole story: after he was cut on October 5th, he was officially signed two days later by the Green Bay Packers. He will sign a one-year, $770k contract. What a turn of events for Smith, but at least he goes from one 4-1 team to another!

As fans, we in Dallas have known for months that a move like this was going to happen at some point, as this was the reason why LBs Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox were drafted in the first place. One of the two, LBs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch (LVE), was not going to be on the team come next year. It looks like that move was made sooner rather than later, and who knows about Dallas’ stance on LVE.┬áIt is still a surprise, as they have had some injuries to their defense. Many thought that Smith would be traded at the very least, but this is no longer the case. Perhaps teams saw through this with the play of the other defensive players. The Cowboys will still pay Smith $7.2M for this season and will have $16.6M in dead cap money through 2022.

Here’s my own take on Smith and his release: “He’s had terrible play the last few seasons, or at least after he got his five-year, $64 million extension. He’s never the guy who finishes the plays, and he’s always one of the last ones to assist on tackles. I always felt that he overdid it with his hype dances whenever he actually did anything. Whenever the ball-carrier comes to him, which defenses aren’t afraid to do, he always misses them first and then gets the tackle later. Instead of the play being a gain of two yards (for example), it becomes a six-yard gain or more. It was his salary that nobody wanted to take on, which is why I believe he was released. Even if a player gets cut, their original team still has to pay the base price. For example, let’s say that Smith wants $9M this year. Well, the Cowboys still have to pay Smith $7M so that he can go sign somewhere else for only $2M. Teams know this, so they just wait for the player to get released.”

Hopefully, the Jaylon Smith the Packers are getting isn’t the one who I just described above! In 68 NFL games (56 starts), he has had two INTs, 20 PDs, six FFs, five FRs, one TD, 9.0 sacks, 516 total tackles, 20 TFLs, and 15 QB hits in five years. He’s had an AV of 35 in four years too, which indicates that he has at least been useful in his time so far. He made the Pro Bowl in 2019, as well as being ranked #61 and #88 respectively in the 2019 and 2020 NFL Top 100. The 2016 second-rounder (34th overall) was also very useful in college, garnering 284 total tackles, 23.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, one INT, 10 PDs, 3 FRs, and 3 FFs in 38 games over three years for Notre Dame.

This could end up being a great move for the Packers, where he will be joining a fairly stacked (quantity-wise) LB core. With his signing, there will be a slight imbalance of ILBs (six) to OLBs (four), but there are also three OLBs currently on IR as well as an OLB and ILB on the practice squad. The rest of their linebacker core is as follows: ILB Krys Barnes (their 2020 UDFA), ILB Oren Burks (their 2018 third-rounder), ILB De’Vondre Campbell (former Falcons 2016 fourth-rounder), OLB Jonathan Garvin (their 2020 seventh-rounder), OLB Rashan Gary (their 2019 first-rounder), OLB La’Darius Hamilton (former Cowboys 2020 UDFA), ILB Isaiah McDuffie (their 2021 sixth-rounder), OLB Preston Smith (former WFT 2015 second-rounder), ILB Ty Summers (their 2019 seventh-rounder), OLB Randy Ramsey (their 2019 UDFA; on IR), OLB Chauncey Rivers (former Ravens 2020 UDFA; on IR), OLB Za’Darius Smith (former Ravens 2015 fourth-rounder; on IR), OLB Tipa Galeai (their 2020 UDFA; on the practice squad), and ILB Ray Wilborn (former Steelers 2020 UDFA; on the practice squad).

Meanwhile, Dallas will have to fare with their six active LBs (three OLBs, one MLB, and two OLB/DEs) and one OLB on the IR. At the moment, they have DE/OLB Azur Kamara (their 2020 UDFA), OLB Jabril Cox (their 2021 fourth-rounder), OLB Luke Gifford (their 2019 UDFA), MLB Keanu Neal (former Falcons 2016 first-rounder), DE/OLB Micah Parsons (their 2021 first-rounder), OLB Leighton Vander Esch (their 2018 first-rounder), and OLB Francis Bernard (their 2020 UDFA). Time will tell as to which Smith we will see the Packers utilize soon, and there is a big possibility that the rich just get richer if this move works out for them. He has a good relationship with both the head coach and the star QB, so the Packers will be hoping that this good chemistry will be the key to further success on the defense.


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Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.

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