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How Jaylon Smith’s Still Hurting the Cowboys in 2022

The Cowboys have a lot of problems to solve during the 2022 . But while present talent and are enough cause for concern, Dallas' efforts to improve and compete next season are being hindered by the lingering impact of former . Despite being released last October Smith's still having a negative impact on the Cowboys.

After overcoming his college knee and putting in a -worthy performance in 2018, Jaylon received a significant . He rewarded that by actually making the Pro Bowl in 2019 during the final season for 's regime.

Unfortunately, like just about everything else for the Cowboys and the world in 2020, things came crashing down for Smith. changes under new coordinator left Jaylon lost on the field and publicly criticizing his coach off of it. The tape not only showed Smith looking hesitant and making poor decisions but even his physical tools appeared to be in decline.

Despite all the good that dumping Nolan for did for Dallas in 2021, Jaylon didn't seem to catch the wave. His issues from the previous season were still there and quickly led to , , and others claiming the majority of the snaps.

Smith slid far and fast, going from a former team captain to being released after Week 4. He only got significant playing time in Weeks 2 and 3 as Dallas suffered a huge rash of early-season COVID issues.

Whether it was the physical or the mental breakdowns or both, the Cowboys clearly saw Jaylon as a liability and progress stopper for other talent at linebacker. It was bad enough that Dallas was willing to eat a huge chunk of guaranteed money remaining on Smith's contract; the damage from which will carry on in 2022.

Jaylon's former contract continues to count $6.8 million against the Cowboys' 2022 . In an offseason that finds Dallas dealing with over 20 free agents and needing to make some big moves to get under the cap and conduct business, this money still allotted to Smith is no small issue.

BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Release LB Jaylon Smith
Former Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys have only themselves to blame on this one. The red flags from 2020 were glaring and, given the quick after just four games, Dallas clearly had its doubts about Jaylon going into the year.

While Smith's presence certainly didn't impede Micah Parsons' development into a rookie phenom, what else might the Cowboys have done to work on the LB position in 2021 with him? Could have received more reps and then gotten more time in the regular season? Might Dallas have found a stronger investment in than a conversion project like Keanu Neal?

The Cowboys now found themselves even weaker at linebacker ahead of the . Parsons is great but now Neal and are free agents while Cox is still very inexperienced and recovering from a torn ACL.

Clearly, Dallas held on to Jaylon Smith a year too long. And that decision affected offseason moves last year which continue to impact the team today.

To be fair, the Cowboys were proven right that Quinn's arrival as would be the tide that raised all ships. He won Assistant in 2021 and seemed to make nearly everyone on the defense better, albeit with help from Parsons' impact.

Sadly, Jaylon was one of the few who didn't benefit from Quinn's arrival. Only the Cowboys coaches and executives know how much faith they had in Smith to improve but clearly, to whatever extent, it was misplaced.

Now, with $6.8 million less in their salary cap coffers and some huge holes at linebacker, Dallas continues to pay for that mistake.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Mitchell fought

I believe that the ‘boy’s made big mistake releasing Jaylon. The mistake of Nolan as coach was more responsible for Jaylon’s slide. And Neal was no better than Jaylon. Go boys.


Other players not named Jaylon Smith showed immediate improvements under Quinn’s guidance … Jaylon did not. Jaylon was not only unable to stick with the Packers, but to-date has not been given interest by any of the other teams in the league. The film says a lot!

Mr. Football

I think will see more of the same next season. The Cowboys will kick the can on Dak contract, that will be felt in 2025 and 2026 in terms of maintaining quality depth.
Jerry never in rebuild mode for the past 25 years will keep the circus moving forward.

James Vargas

It’s not just Jaylon’s contract. It’s Dak’s, Zeke and D Lawrence contracts as well. Oh well, 26 years and counting.


ight move … it just was a bummer that Cox went down before getting the chance to grow into a LB role.


More stupity from Stephen Jones. He’s incompetent and if he wasn’t Jerry’s son he would’ve been fired long ago. He should be replaced immediately. Now he wants to cut Cooper and Tank because he gave them too much money. This keeps happening over and over again. He’s never won a negotiation Romo, Dak, Zeke their agents rob him blind every time.

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