Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith release is incredibly odd

Dallas Cowboys, Jaylon Smith (9) (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys, Jaylon Smith (9) (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Dallas Cowboys have chosen to release linebacker, Jaylon Smith. As reported by Adam Schefter, the Cowboys have chosen to go separate ways with the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

In a rather surprising move, the Cowboys and the defense led by coordinator, Dan Quinn, appear to be going in different directions. Smith was the second-leading tackler in the NFL last season with 154 tackles. Since joining the Cowboys in 2017, Smith has tallied 516 tackles and nine sacks.

Smith was a bit of a divisive personality amongst Cowboys fans. His well-known “swipe” after a tackle became a bit of a running joke in the Cowboys fan community. Smith also created some dismay in fans but choosing to change his number to nine, when many fans felt that number belonged to former quarterback, Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys picked an odd time to release Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith will still be owed his entire yearly salary this year of $7.6 million by the Cowboys. That number does get smaller if Smith signs with another team in the regular season due to clauses that are built into the contract. Smith received a Pro Bowl nod after his performance in the 2018 season.

There were rumblings of Smith’s days being numbered and a likely candidate for a roster casualty following this season, but I am not sure many suspected a mid-season cut. There were talks that the Cowboys front office was listening to trade interest around this year’s past draft but ultimately did not pull the trigger on any trade.

One thing I think is that the timing of this release feels a bit… odd. It strikes me as there may be more news to come out as reasons that led to Smith’s very sudden release. It is not often to see a player that contributes considerable snaps and is also not injured, get the news he is gone midseason.

I am anxious to see what news leaks out in the coming days in press conferences involving the staff and members of the defense. I don’t think this move will affect any sort of locker room continuity as this team has a different edge than past Cowboys defenses. I expect Dan Quinn to have this defense not missing a beat.

What does this mean for now? I think the first thing that hit me was that fellow linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has been fully put on notice. He is playing out the final year of his contract and this move shows the Cowboys must believe in their linebacking core.

Keanu Neal should be returning from the COVID-19 list and the Cowboys must feel confident in his ability to jump back into action in the middle of the defense. I also think we will get to see the LSU rookie, Jabril Cox, see some more snaps as the Cowboys continue to incorporate more rookies.

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For the time being, I am going to wait to see what details matriculate out in the next 24-48 hours, but it appears this Cowboys team is different from the past in that they are not afraid to make immediate moves they feel necessary. The Dallas Cowboys still have great depth at linebacker and should handle this separation fine, but it is a rather intriguing move in recent memory.