The Cowboys have reached a long-term extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, sources tell Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Smith has been vocal about his desire for a new deal, and he’s got one in place with days to go before the regular season.
Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that it’s a five-year, $64MM pact (Twitter link), but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Smith was under contract for about $1.3MM this year and would have been eligible for a restricted free agent tender in 2020, and the extension did not subsume those amounts. So, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets, Smith is now playing under a seven-year, $69.7MM deal, and Smith will be under club control through 2025. David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the extension does include $35.5MM in guaranteed money, but it looks like a fairly team-friendly pact overall.
Still, it’s a good day for Smith, who recently said that he never wants to play for another team. “I want to be a Cowboy. I want to be a Cowboy for the rest of my life,” Smith said last week. “Understanding what they’ve done for me, taking a chance, taking a risk. Now they’re getting the return on their investment. It’s a beautiful thing to be a Dallas Cowboy.”
Indeed, the Cowboys took a gamble on Smith by selecting him in the second round of the 2016 draft. When he was healthy at Notre Dame, Smith was viewed as a top 10 pick. However, severe knee injuries caused his stock to plummet. At the time, it was speculated that Smith could drop like a stone due to medical concerns, but the Cowboys rolled the dice and pounced on him with the No. 34 overall choice.
Smith missed all of 2016 and played mostly as a part-timer in 2017. Then, last year, he came back with a vengeance. Smith graded as the league’s No. 6 off-ball linebacker last season, per Pro Football Focus, making a career-high 121 tackles and registering four sacks. Between Smith and 2018 first-rounder Leighton Vander Esch (No. 4 on PFF’s 2018 linebacker performance list), the Cowboys have one of the NFL’s best three-down linebacking duos.
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