Shockwaves were sent around the football world on Tuesday evening with the announcement that the Dallas Cowboys intended to release linebacker Jaylon Smith.
The Cowboys will reportedly continue to attempt to trade Smith instead of outright releasing him before 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but reports indicate a trade does not appear likely. Dallas still owes Smith a hefty $5.6 million in base salary for the remainder of this season and his contract features $9.2 million in injury guarantees for the 2022 campaign. Smith’s release saves the Cowboys nothing against the cap immediately but will free up $5 million in cap space for next season.
The complicated money factor sure played a role in Smith's surprising release, as did the improved linebacker play the Cowboys are currently receiving from the likes of Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal. Fellow linebacker Jabril Cox has impressed in a limited role as a rookie and may be due for an increase in playing time going forward.
The 26-year-old Smith has struggled to perform at the expected level in recent years and is no longer a viable scheme fit in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s Cover3 defense that prefers defenders that excel in space.
Things went haywire in Dallas, but here are three teams that should inquire about adding Smith to the fold.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs need to explore any and all options that could improve a struggling defense that is currently allowing an astounding 146 rushing yards and 437.8 yards per contest. Opposing offenses are scoring at the extremely efficient clip of 31.3 points per game. The woeful Atlanta Falcons are the only team in the league that's fielded a worse scoring defense (32 points per game) through four weeks.
Andy Reid's men surprisingly sit in last place in the new-look AFC West and have hit a bit of an unexpected roadblock with their vastly underperforming defense. Smith is a disciplined run defender that could especially help solve Kansas City's defensive woes in the ground game.
The Dolphins’ 2021 season is spiraling out of control fast. Their starting quarterback is once again struggling to stay healthy and they’ve won just one of their four games thus far. On the defensive side of the ball, they’ve received some less-than-desirable play at the linebacker position. Smith could help out Elandon Roberts, who has earned himself an atrocious 44.6 grade as a run defender in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. Miami’s front seven as a whole have been undisciplined with their run fits, an area of the game Smith excels in.
To add intrigue to this destination, Armando Salguero recently reported the Dolphins attempted to trade for Smith in the offseason. The Dolphins are a young team that’s off to a disappointing start. Acquiring Smith could not only fix some of their immediate defensive woes but could also set them up nicely for the future as well.
Through four weeks, the Ravens’ defense has allowed a disappointing 358.8 yards per game. Their total defensive numbers took a positive step forward following Sunday’s 23-7 win over a banged-up Denver Broncos squad, but this Ravens defense isn’t out of the woods yet. They allowed 33 and 35 points in Week 1 and 2 respectively and have the look of a middling unit at best.
The Ravens are struggling to tackle as a defense, and adding Smith, who’s a sound tackler, to the fold could go a long way in solving that issue. Patrick Queen is a young linebacker who should continue to get better but could use some help next to him with the likes of Malik Harrison and Tyus Bowser struggling to make the desired impact. We love this fit.