FRISCO - Amid a great deal of speculation regarding the Dallas Cowboys' contractual future of Jaylon Smith, one of the most weighty opinions, it seems to us, should come from ...
So, have the Cowboys - who absolutely need to make some headline-worthy moves in order to accommodate whatever their contract plans are with QB Dak Prescott - ever approached Smith about a restructure or something even more drastic?
"No sir,'' Smith tells CowboysSI.com. They have not.''
And this week, a source tells us, the Cowboys will not.
"We're not cutting Jaylon Smith,'' the source tells us.
The reasoning might be arguable if the NFL was something other than a salary-cap league. After all, even though Smith played well in the Saturday night preseason loss to the Houston Texans, he is sliding down the totem pole, with first-round pick Micah Parsons at the top of the depth chart, with former Falcons "hybrid linebacker'' Keanu Neal up there, too, with Leighton Vander Esch playing for a contract and with another rookie, Jabril Cox, starting to show up.
The first three guys are ahead of Smith. And fourth-rounder Cox is closing on him.
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“I’ve never had comfort like we have right now,'' said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. "I don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a linebacker group with (this much) depth and that veteran experience from top to bottom.”
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"Depth and experience.'' That's Jaylon's job now.
Smith, just 26, is aware of the public criticism of his level of play in 2020, when he led the Cowboys with 154 tackles, a top-five NFL total, but in the minds of some, didn't live up to his contract. The former second-round pick, who has often told us he viewed his return from a devastating college injury as a "spiritual and medical miracle,'' has toned down his public persona.
The slogans don't appear as often. Nor does "The Swipe.''
But the contract is still a matter of fan-base debate.
That contract, a six-year extension, is worth $68 mil total and in 2021 counts $9.8 mil. Dallas did have time to change its mind here, as March 21 marked the NFL day on which Smith’s 2021 base salary of $7.2 million becomes fully guaranteed.
But Dallas let the deadlines pass. And now Jaylon Smith's contract is guaranteed. No team, under any circumstance, wants to eat $9.8 mil in dead money.
So the Cowboys have a position, publicly and privately, of support for Jaylon.
“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 says. “I just love his approach and the way he’s gone about it.”
Football is a violent game and "depth and experience'' will be needed. Tuesday is another NFL roster cutdown day, and that won't involve Smith. Soon comes the regular season. Relatively speaking, that doesn't figure to involve Smith right now, either.