Cowboys make surprise release of LB Jaylon Smith

·1 min read

The Dallas Cowboys released linebacker Jaylon Smith.

The team announced the decision on its website Tuesday night, confirming earlier media reports. 

Smith, 26, is in his fifth NFL season. A second-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2016 out of Notre Dame, Smith made the Pro Bowl in 2019. He started every Cowboys game from 2018-20, but came off the bench in two of Dallas' four games this season. He was a team captain for Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers. 

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Jaylon Smith's time in Dallas is done. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

It was not immediately clear what prompted the Cowboys to make the cut four weeks into the season. Smith is owed $7.2 million this season, all of which was guaranteed when he made the team's initial 53-man roster. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that $9.2 million in injury guarantees for next season played a factor in the decision.

The Cowboys spent two of their last three first-round draft picks on linebackers, selecting Leighton Vander Esch in 2018 and rookie Micah Parsons in April's draft. They did not have a first-round pick in 2019. Parsons has emerged as Rookie of the Year candidate while helping to anchor a resurgent Dallas defense this season. 

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