East Rumors: Cowboys, Patriots, Copeland

The Jaylon Smith extension tethers the emerging linebacker to the Cowboys through the 2025 season, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the deal will give 24-year-old standout $19MM fully guaranteed at signing. Both this figure and Smith’s AAV ($12.5MM) place him sixth among off-ball linebackers, giving this pact a win-win feel for the Cowboys and a player who recovered from a serious injury to move into lucrative extension position.

Smith will be 30 by the time this contract expires but will only be 27 by the time the guarantees stop in 2022. The deal contains a $5.17MM base salary for 2020, which is fully guaranteed, and a $7.2MM base for 2021. This contract includes injury guarantees for both Smith’s 2021 and 2022 base salaries — $7.2MM and $9.2MM, respectively — and those become full guarantees on the fifth day of each year. Additionally, the deal contains a $500K de-escalator, Florio adds. This will take effect if Smith fails to show for 90% of Dallas’ offseason workouts.

The Cowboys still have the same four key UFAs-to-be as they did to start the week — Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and La’el Collins — and Ezekiel Elliott remains a holdout. But the team checked off a key piece of its complicated contract checklist in locking down Smith, who would have been a 2020 RFA.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • More good news for the Patriots‘ wide receiver situation. Demaryius Thomas came off the active/PUP list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. This marks a key step for the former Pro Bowler. Thomas is not a lock to make New England’s 53-man roster and can no longer be stashed on the team’s reserve/PUP list to start the season. With Thomas unlikely to play in New England’s fourth preseason game, he has a short time to prove he belongs on the final roster. But the Pats taking him off their PUP list leads NESN.com’s Doug Kyed to project the 31-year-old target will be one of the 53-man unit’s receivers.
  • Josh Gordon‘s return obviously strengthens the Pats’ receiving corps, but it will make their roster crunch more difficult. Gordon, Thomas, Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, rookie Jakobi Meyers, Phillip Dorsett and Maurice Harris will not all be on the Pats’ 53-man roster, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe looks to have Harris on the wrong side of the bubble (Twitter link). The former Redskins auxiliary cog signed with the Pats in free agency and impressed early in camp, but he’s dealing with a leg injury presently. The recent developments involving higher-profile players may push him back to free agency.
  • Brandon Copeland issued a denial in knowingly taking a banned substance, via Instagram. While this could be expected, given how post-PED fallouts usually unfold, the Jets linebacker is out four games. This further thins out the Jets’ edge defender crew, which was already a weak spot for the AFC’s Big Apple franchise. Copeland registered five sacks last season.
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