Giants signing Jaylon Smith as sleeper agent vs Cowboys?
By Adam Weinrib
Sorry, did the New York Giants just rummage through the Dallas Cowboys’ trash, desperate for any advantage they can get in Week 15?
That’s certainly what it feels like as the transaction wire continues to unfold.
In the midst of seemingly 60 new COVID positives and a wave of depressing protocol changes, New York’s braintrust tried to sneak in a signing that should feel familiar to any Cowboys can with high hopes. Jaylon Smith, previously the steal of all draft steals during his injury recovery, but more recently a surprise cut to pave a path for Micah Parsons’ stardom, has now joined the G-Men.
With the two teams facing off for the second time in 2021 this weekend, the timing is a bit suspect. But, in reality, how much intel can Smith possibly give? Anything short of forcing a Dak Prescott trade to New York probably won’t help the sorry Giants this weekend.
The interesting wrinkle here is that signing Smith isn’t just a decoy or an intimidation tactic for the Giants; they really plan to use the linebacker immediately to patch over significant holes. Don’t let the practice squad designation fool you.
Currently, the Giants have nine players on the COVID list, and of those nine, only Xavier McKinney (a close contact) might return by Sunday’s game. That list includes linebacker Cam Brown, who will see his snaps go to Smith after a remarkably quick turnaround.
This defection would’ve been unfathomable just a few short years ago when Smith was a 24-year-old Pro Bowler flying around the field for a Cowboys defense with precious few bright spots. Selected 34th overall out of Notre Dame in 2016, Smith had recently plummeted from the top five of the draft to the second round after tearing his ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl.
For all intents and purposes, the gambit worked, as Smith established himself as a fearsome roving presence on the field who earned himself a five-year, $64 million extension in the summer of 2019. From that point, the regression began (and his switch to Tony Romo’s No. 9 prior to 2021 certainly didn’t help matters).
Early in 2021, Smith was passed on the depth chart by Micah Parsons, and swiftly sent packing. Now, the Giants have him instead of Parsons! Whoops.
Giants sign Jaylon Smith, but they let the Cowboys draft Micah Parsons, so…
Smith was clearly signed by the Giants this week as a matter of necessity and not revenge.
Still, it’s remarkable to find ourselves here, just a few years after Smith’s mammoth extension was inked. The Cowboys have themselves a significant upgrade, while the Giants are left with a reclamation project.