Jaylon Smith has been with the Dallas Cowboys since 2016, made the Pro Bowl in 2019, and signed a big contract with the team two years ago. Tuesday’s news that the team was cutting him left many stunned.
So, why would Dallas get rid of Smith, especially when they still owe him $7.2 million this season? We have our answer, and it has to do with the linebacker’s contract situation.
Smith was set to make $9.2 million next season. That amount would become fully guaranteed if he were on the roster on March 20, 2022. But there’s a twist: Smith has an injury guarantee.
That means if Smith cannot pass his physical leading up to the March 20 date, the Cowboys would have to pay the $9.2 million.
Dallas decided it was worth it to eat the $7.2 million they owe Smith for this year now rather than risk him getting injured, which would cost them $9.2 million next season.
The #Cowboys had a Jaylon Smith problem. His contract was guaranteed for injury in 2022.
Better to release him now than risk being on the hook for his salary.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 6, 2021
The move also frees up $5 million against the salary cap for next season.
This is the second notable move Dallas has made to their linebackers this year. They also declined the 2022 option for Leighton Vander Esch in March.
Dallas apparently tried to trade Smith but were unable to do so, leading to his release.
Can confirm. My sources tell me the #Cowboys tried unsuccessfully to trade Jaylon Smith. “He did everything we asked him to” but ultimately the play of guys like Keanu Neal, Leighton Vander Esch and I’m told perhaps increased use now of Jabril Cox led to the move bc of https://t.co/2YkPjxS6Ij
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) October 6, 2021
Teams did not want to pick up the 26-year-old on his current contract, but they will likely have interest in him for more favorable financial terms.
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