FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys' claim of "turning down offers'' for Aldon Smith just before the NFL Trade Deadline is the stuff that future negotiations are made of.
The claim makes it much easier for ownership to attempt to extend or re-sign the "rescue-project'' Smith to a new deal for 2021 and beyond, the Joneses being able to say, "Not only did we give you a second chance in the NFL, but we believe in you so strongly that we wouldn't even listen to trade offers!''
But there is some mythology here that gets in the way of the facts, and some truths here that make an Aldon Smith re-signing more complicated than it seems.
Did the Cowboys really turn down offers for Smith? The buzz we hear is that the Seattle Seahawks are the only team that made an offer - and that their proposal included only a "mid-round pick.''
Given the fact that if Smith leaves after 2020, the Cowboys will likely receive a compensatory selection worth the same "mid-round pick,'' Dallas hardly demonstrated any "special devotion'' to the player by spurning the offer.
A "mid-round pick'' obviously doesn't outweigh what Dallas has in hand: A similar future pick (compensatory), the continuing participation of Smith (who after a half-decade of NFL suspension now leads the Cowboys with five sacks) and the continuing chance to re-sign him.
Now to that re-signing ...
"We want to maximize our relationship with him,'' Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Friday when asked about the two parties' future together. "We’ve all got a good one with him. Proud of him. Proud for him. Proud that he’s given himself this chance, and we’re going to help him do it.''
The complications? The Cowboys in April signed Smith to a one-year deal that was billed as being "worth up to $4 million.'' In reality, the contract is worth about $1.05 million. If he get to eight sacks, he makes another $500,000, and only if Smith gets to 14 sacks will he get $4 million.
He is on pace for nine sacks. Assuming he's on the roster the rest of the year, he'll be due about $1.505 million.
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The Cowboys can think that's a handsome reward for "taking a chance'' on Smith. But he doesn't have to think that at all. He will have every reason to view himself as being Robert Quinn Redux, Quinn being the player who spent one season in Dallas in 2019, rebuilt his career with 11.5 sacks, and used that as a launching pad out of Dallas and onto Chicago, where he makes $15 million a year.
The Cowboys also thought they might keep Quinn. They never came close.
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We think Dallas believes that Smith a) is willing to let the Cowboys have "the inside track'' on negotiations and b) views himself as a great fit in the locker room and at The Star.
We're not sure either of those things are true, though to his credit, Aldon is saying the right things about still being here past the trade deadline.
“That showed they have faith in me and they want me here,” Smith said. “I’m extremely grateful for the Cowboys giving me a chance.”
That's the proper thing to say in November. It has nothing necessarily to do with what happens in March.
"He’s an absolute unique-in-every-way pressure player,'' Jones said. "I’m a fan of his.”
But this isn't about "fandom.'' This is about the business of football. A half-decade of suspension cost Aldon Smith a fortune. The Cowboys can think his comeback is about them, but Smith has every right to think it's about him ... and to think about himself first when it comes to his 2021 NFL employer.