FRISCO - We really do not believe we're being too biased when we say there are many, many things to like about Jaylon Smith.
But is the linebacker's $10 million a year salary really one of them?
"I like what we’ve spent and what we’ve done - even going all the way back to picking him - on Jaylon Smith,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “That’s been a home run. He’s everything and more we thought he could be, coming back from the injury, when we got him in the second round. He was on the first-round board. So that is absolutely a winner.”
Jerry, as is his habit, tosses so much information into his Word-Salad answer that it merits being picked apart by knife and fork.
*"Picking him'' in the second round, at slot No. 34 in the 2016 NFL Draft, is not the problem ... but it's also not the issue. Jaylon is a starting linebacker in the NFL; having used a second-round pick to obtain that is not the argument here.
*"Coming back from the injury'' is not the problem ... but it's also not the issue. Jaylon's recovery from his massive knee-and-leg injury is, as we've often chronicled in this space (with Jaylon's help) both a scientific and spiritual miracle.
*"He was on the first-round board'' is not the problem ... but it's also not the issue. Some teams didn't believe Smith would ever walk properly again, and indeed, for the first two years in Dallas he still dealt with dropfoot; he literally needed two hands to don a sock, one to hold the sock and the other to hold up his foot. The fact that Dallas had "inside'' medical information that kept him on their Big Board is acceptable.
"A winner'' is indisputable, if we're talking about Jaylon the person. We've dealt with him a great deal over the course of four years. As we've written before: If we are opening a business, we'll take Jaylon as our CEO. If we're opening a church, we'll take Jaylon as our deacon.
He is absolute a "winner.'' That was put on display again in his Monday media visit, when, using his customary positivity, he said, "We just got to find a way. It starts with myself. It starts with all of the leaders putting forth our best efforts and then having that trickle-down effect.''
But ... yup. "Jaylon as a winner'' is not the problem ... but it's also not the issue.
What Jerry was asked to answer is the question about Jaylon playing up to the level of the market-re-setting pacts he was given in 2019. Smith became the NFL’s third-highest-paid linebacker by inking a five-year, $63.75 million deal which included $35.4 million in guarantees - $19 million guaranteed at signing - and a $5 million signing bonus.
Dallas' intention was to pay Jaylon "on the come'' - for what he was destined to become. There have been undeniable ups, including a Pro Bowl (alternate) appearance, and this year, two impressive run-backs on takeaways. This season he plays virtually all the snaps and he's got lots of tackles to show for it.
But is Jaylon a dominant "third-best linebacker in the NFL''? Jerry calls him a "cornerstone'' player, but ... The ups have not been that "up,'' no.
READ MORE: Jerry Jones Insists Cowboys Won't Tank
There has been speculation disguised as "reporting'' that Dallas will part ways with Smith after this season - "cut their losses,'' so to speak. The problem with that angle is that cap-wise, there is no way to "cut their losses.'' In round numbers, a release of Jaylon would leave the Cowboys "owing the cap'' $9 million. So they would be paying the money, anyway, but not getting the player. (A June 1 release would spread the cap payment over two years, but it still doesn't go away.)
A critic doesn't have to believe he's worth $10 million a year ... but only an idiot would think it wise to "pay the cap'' $9 million for him to not be here.
And maybe that reality is actually why Jones is so steadfast in his support of his organization's judgment.
"I think we’re lucky to have both of those guys,'' Jerry said of Jaylon Smith and another pricy player going through struggles, running back Ezekiel Elliott. "I wouldn’t take the resources that I’m putting there and trade not having those guys for those resources. I would not do that.”
The "resources,'' of course, cannot be undone. So the Cowboys wish to add that to the list of the many, many things there are to like about Jaylon Smith.