Whenever a good player is surprisingly released by another team, Philadelphia media is obligated to do the “SHOULD THE EAGLES SIGN HIM?” routine. It’s an unwritten rule of shitty content creation in the modern era.
Some of these stories actually do carry weight, though, and this is one of them. The Cowboys released Jaylon Smith on Tuesday night and because the Birds’ linebacking corps absolutely stinks, you gotta give some thought to bringing him in, right?
For starters, Smith was a Pro Bowler just two years ago. Dallas gave a long-term contract to a guy who tore his ACL and MCL in college, forwent his senior season, and then sat out his rookie NFL year. It was a great sports story in a vacuum, if you remove the Cowboy affiliation.
So why get rid of him?
The move comes as a surprise because Smith has not missed a game in his career and the Cowboys are on the hook for his full $7.2 million base salary. The team had some trade discussions earlier in the season, according to sources, but a deal never came to fruition. By releasing Smith now, the Cowboys are free from the $9.2 million base salary in 2022 that was currently guaranteed only for injury.
Before this season’s opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith started every game he played from 2018 to 2020 and was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2019 season.
This season, Smith did not start any of the first four games. He was credited with 19 tackles and played in 148 of 264 snaps.
Smith fell out of favor down there. The Cowboys drafted Micah Parsons and they have Leighton Vander Esch in the fold. Converted LB Keanu Neal is coming back and Jabril Cox and Luke Gifford are also on the roster. It seems like they just found Smith expendable and decided to cut ties to save money.
Cowboys fans and writers and bloggers suggest Smith really fell off recently. His coverage skills were lacking and he wasn’t reading and reacting the same way he used to. Clips like this are floating around on social:
This was probably the game Cowboys seen enough of Jaylon Smith..sheesh pic.twitter.com/cCtr8JF97R
— Breakemdown (@pettyhardaway30) October 6, 2021
Looks like an Eagles linebacker there. He’ll fit right in!
Thing about Smith is that he’s only 26 years old. How many 26 year old former Pro Bowl linebackers hit the market in October? The Birds got nothing better at LB, so you could do much worse than bringing in Smith for a change of scenery to see how it goes. That’s assuming he doesn’t get a decent offer to go somewhere else.
As another matter of divisional importance, consider this:
Wow. Jaylon Smith had 5 years, $50.75M left on his contract.
His release leaves behind $16.6M of dead cap to the #Cowboys
2021: $9.8M ($7.2M cash)
2022: $6.8M https://t.co/rWEOHdkOS4
— Spotrac (@spotrac) October 6, 2021
Jaylon Smith. Eagles. Yes or no?