Jaylon Smith, LB
When the Cowboys selected Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, it constituted great value for Dallas. Smith was a top-five level talent that fell to the 34th overall pick due to a devastating knee injury that caused career-threatening nerve damage.
After sitting out his entire rookie season, Smith started paying off the team’s gamble in 2017 and hasn’t missed a single game since. Once representing a terrific value, that dynamic flipped when the Cowboys inked him to a five-year, $64 million contract extension in August of 2019.
What was once a risky draft choice that paid off beautifully suddenly became a new level of expectations set by a massive financial commitment. And according to Pro Football Focus, Smith’s value is plummeting as he’s having his worst season as a professional with an overall grade of 55.0 through six games.
Despite the low grade, Smith currently leads the team with 63 combined tackles, which is the third-highest tackle total in the NFL. Yet, the team’s defense appears to be one of the worst in NFL history, allowing an average of 36.3 points per game to opposing offenses. The run defense in particular is putrid, allowing a shocking 173.3 yards on the ground per contest.
Just 25-years old, there should be a market for Jaylon Smith who still possesses tremendous upside as a Pro Bowl linebacker in 2019. And the truth is, the Cowboys are unlikely to part ways with him because of it. Yet, that doesn’t mean the brass in Dallas shouldn’t consider moving on from Smith if the right trade offer comes along.