The Dallas Cowboys made a splash on Monday by hiring Dan Quinn to be its new defensive coordinator after only one year of operating under Mike Nolan's hybrid scheme which produced the worst defense in team history. Now, the Cowboys are making waves again on the defensive side of the ball, but in a completely different way.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith will undergo left wrist surgery Thursday, according to multiple sources. Smith did not miss a game in 2020, leading the Cowboys with 161 tackles. He was on the injury report in Week 16 with a wrist injury but was a full practice… https://t.co/lN4eJ3ap5n
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) January 14, 2021
Smith led the Cowboys with 154 tackles (second in the NFL) which topped his previous career-high of 142 in 2019. However, the 2020 season was a struggle for Smith as he often looked lost not only against the run but also against the pass under Nolan's scheme. Even with obvious regression in his play, Smith doesn't lack any confidence in his game, as he explained after the Cowboy's loss to the New York Giants in the season finale.
“I mean, watch the film,” Smith said. “But for me, it’s a blessing to be able to play this game. So many people thought I’d never play ever again. So for me, I’m my worst critic and I’m my biggest fan. I’m gonna keep at it, keep grinding, but the guys that know football and know our scheme and watch film. I don’t have to speak for myself. It’s all there.”
The Cowboys can release the former second-round pick by the fifth day of the league year in March. However, If Smith is a post-June 1 cut, the Cowboys save $7.2 million against the salary cap and have just $2.6 million in dead money.
If Smith is back with a star on his helmet in 2021 the Cowboys will be looking for him to live up to his five-year, $64 million dollar deal which he's struggled to do since signing it in August of 2019.