Dallas Cowboys release Jaylon Smith in surprise but correct move

Jaylon Smith. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jaylon Smith. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports /

Jaylon Smith has been a liability on defense for the Dallas Cowboys since signing an extension in 2019 and they finally admitted as much on Tuesday night by releasing him.

Jaylon Smith was once a feel-good story for the Dallas Cowboys after returning from a serious knee injury suffered in his final collegiate game with Notre Dame. Not long after that, he was a linebacker with a contract that became an albatross for the team.

And with several other options outperforming him in Dallas, the Cowboys finally decided on Tuesday night that it was time to say goodbye to Smith.

As reported by Adam Schefter, Dallas released the veteran linebacker just two seasons after giving him a five-year, $64 million extension.

When looking at sheer numbers, Smith seems to be a solid player. He recorded triple digits in tackles for the past three seasons with 154 coming in 2020 — which was a career-high for him. The problem is, he seemed to record many of his stats on plays that made no impact.

He was also finding himself out of position constantly and when he faced criticism, he was painfully oblivious to it.

After his poor 2020 campaign, Smith shrugged off concerns saying to “watch the film” to know whether or not he would be with the team in 2021. While he did make it initially, Smith found himself working behind Keanu Neal, Micah Parsons, and Leighton Vander Esch this season.

In four games, he made just two starts which was the first sign that he was in Dan Quinn’s doghouse. Now, the new defensive coordinator will turn to the aforementioned players full-time.

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Smith will likely catch on elsewhere but it was clear that his freelancing ways were a problem in Dallas and their defense may have gotten better with subtraction.