NFL rumors: 5 teams that should sign Jaylon Smith

NFL rumors: 5 teams that should sign Jaylon Smith

Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith comes as a surprise mid-season cut from the Dallas Cowboys. Here are five teams that could benefit from the costly move. 

On Tuesday night, the 3-1 Dallas Cowboys made a bold mid-season move by cutting premier Pro Bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith from their roster.

The move was shocking, not only because of the linebacker’s reputation, but also because of the money it cost to part ways with Smith.

Smith had five years and $50.75 million remaining on his contract. His release leaves behind $16.6 million of dead cap, and the Cowboys still owe him $7.2 million for the 2021 season.

The cut can only indicate that the Cowboys evaluated Smith wasn’t worth it when they had players like former Atlanta Falcon Keanu Neal and rookie Micah Parsons on the field. After the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cowboy Maven writer Richie Whitt detailed how that Week 1 game plan could be “writing on the wall” for both Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. In early September, Whitt detailed how quickly the tables turned for these formerly-touted Cowboys linebackers:

“Smith, a former second-round choice who counts $9.8 million against the cap this season, could be in his final season in Dallas. Vander Esch, a former first-round choice, is making $3.77 million in the final year of his deal after the Cowboys declined to pick up his $9.3 million option. A year ago, Smith played 98 percent of the Cowboys defensive snaps. A couple of years before that, Vander Esch was a Pro Bowler.”

If the Cowboys don’t want Smith or Vander Esch, there are plenty of other NFL teams who could use the talent at the position.

Something to keep in mind: Smith has long been the middle linebacker in the Cowboys 4-3 defense, making Smith the “quarterback of the defense” responsible for reading the offense, making pre-snap changes and covering everything between the sidelines.

While Smith is used to running the defense, he does have the skills to transition to a sack-grabbing outside linebacker. “Smith might be a linebacker first, but he also has a knack for getting to the quarterback,” the Cowboys wrote of him in 2020.

Here are five ideal situations Smith could find himself in as the flourishing entrepreneur takes his negotiating skills to NFL free agency.

5. Green Bay Packers

Packers fans haven’t been keen on defensive coordinator Joe Barry this season, but a Week 4 win over the Steelers has given the Packers hope for continuing their three-game win streak and divisional domination.

That being said, the Packers have needed help at linebacker for quite some time, and Za’Darius Smith could be out for the rest of the season, which spells trouble for the midfield defenders. Additionally, Pro Bowlers David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Jaire Alexander and Smith are all out for the foreseeable future.

The Packers were reportedly looking for linebackers as recently as two weeks ago, so the availability of Smith could have him replacing Krys Barnes or De’Vondre Campbell as soon as he learns the playbook. While Smith could be costly, adding him could be the boost the Packers need defensively to make a serious playoff push this season.

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