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Jaylon Smith Reportedly Not on the Dallas Cowboys Chopping Block

As the contract saga between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott continues to rage on, the franchise still has some interesting financial decisions to work out this offseason. Yes, they currently have a projected $19 million in salary-cap space per, but that is yet to figure in a Dak Prescott franchise tag or long-term contract.

They have options to restructure a couple of players that could help create even more cap space, but one of the ideas that’s been floated around was nixed yesterday per a report from the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Clarence Hill.

A source told Hill that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of cutting Linebacker Jaylon Smith this offseason. A release of the once-promising linebacker would free up $7.2 million in cap space with a post-June 1st designation.

Smith was second in the NFL among linebackers in solo tackles per Pro Football Focus, but was just 10th in the league in stops. Pro Football Focus’ “stops” metric considers the down and distance gained by the ball carrier when the tackle was made. It’s the defensive version of success rate. If the tackler prevents the ball carrier from picking up 40% of the necessary yardage on first down, 60% of the necessary yardage to gain on second down, or 100% on third or fourth down, the player gets credit for a stop.

A tackle that allows nine yards on first down and a tackle that allows nine yards on third down but prevents the first down are weighted much differently.

Though he had just five fewer solo tackles and two fewer assisted tackles than league leader Zach Cunningham, Smith was 22 “stops” behind Cunningham, who led the NFL. Jaylon Smith made a lot of tackles in 2020, but it seemed a lot of them were already after the ball carrier gained significant yardage on the play.

It’s an interesting decision by the Dallas Cowboys to put it out there that they have no intention of releasing Smith despite the decline in play since his breakout 2018 season. Perhaps they feel that if they upgrade the interior defensive line, Jaylon Smith and his running buddy Leighton Vander Esch return to form.

That’s certainly a possibility. However, Smith’s physical limitations at this point in his career have little to do with what’s happening in front of him. Unless he improves his ability to diagnose misdirection and screenplays, teams will continue to use that blueprint to attack the Cowboys and Jaylon Smith.

The Cowboys certainly have other options for creating cap space and have little answers at the linebacker position if they moved on from Smith. However, they have to continue to look to improve their linebacker situation in 2021 and beyond. Jaylon Smith needs a bounceback season in the worst way, and the Dallas Cowboys need it too.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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  1. I think Jaylon gets a bum rap as being a liability. If the 1st level defenders could make stops, this would be a non issue. The Cowboys have been soft in the middle of the d-line for years now. Poe was a bust, McCoy got hurt in pre season and Tristan Hill got hurt after being a non factor when he did play. If they can address this, it will go a long way at making the linebacker numbers alot better. The secondary is another issue the Cowboys HAVE to improve this off season. All of this is going to hinge on the Dak Prescott issue and how much cap room they will have depending on his tag/ long term extension.

  2. It doesn’t matter if first line is soft or not , YOU DO YOUR JOB and so far J Smith last year was TRASH at that

    I god honestly don’t know what he does well as a LB

    he can’t cover a freaking turtle out on the field

    he can’t get to QB

    he can’t stop the run

    he’s constantly lost on play action or misdirection

    he someone can tell me what he does well , pls tell me , cuz IDK anything he’s good at

    2nd at this point , IDC if they can’t trade him , at this point i’m looking for replacements in draft or FA and i’m cutting him the minute i do find someone , which wouldn’t take very long to find someone better than him , you could probably find a 4th rounder who’s better XD XD XD

  3. I have mixed emotions on JS. Love the comeback story and was rooting for him. He looked good for a time, but now when I see the bad angles and missing tackles when squared up in front without even getting close, well that should not happen. Can he improve?

    Drafting a LB at some point certainly makes sense, imo.

    • No doubt. I want him to succeed. I think he’s a good guy that loves the game and loves life, has a great attitude and was an inspiration during his comeback. The problem is now he has to play well.

      I hope he can improve. I just think he needs to get outside of his own head. Perhaps a move back to a one-gap scheme under Quinn will be what the Doctor ordered.

  4. Great another year of watching #54 trailing the play and making a tackle 20 yrs downfield. In this wide open passing league he is a dinosaur. He lost all his fast twitch athleticism after his college injury. He couldn’t cover my grandma in space and is fooled by the most simple misdirection. Better DL play won’t improve his physical limitations.

    So we sign this slug and the washed up Zeke before we sign the most important position in sports. Well that’s Jerry for u.

  5. Lol I’ll take her in the 40 against Smith. He’s like a locomotive he takes alot of time to get to top speed. He MIGHT be able to take her in the 100.


    Hey guys can we get that arranged ?

    John vs. J Smith 40 time ?

    I love the shots guys , it probably true XD XD XD

  7. Spot on commentary! Jaylon Smith doesn’t do anything well. He gets a “bum rap’ because he is a bum!!! Looks totally confused 95% of the time. The other 5% is spent waiting to be exposed for the idiotic clown he is. The Cowboys could and should cut their losses with him. The 7 million saved by cutting him would be better spent elsewhere. Francis Bernard or one of the other young Linebackers could do what he’s doing for less money.

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