Jaylon Smith did not have to wait too long to find a new home in the NFL. Following his surprise release from the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, the veteran linebacker has reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. There were several teams in the hunt for Smith following his release from the Cowboys, but the the former Pro Bowler indicated that Green Bay is where he wanted to play and the Packers now get to beef up their linebacker corps.
The Packers did need to bolster this area on their depth chart after Za'Darius Smith underwent back surgery and is slated to be out for an extended period of time. Smith was injured in Green Bay's Week 1 opener against the Saints and it was recently reported that he underwent a procedure this week to repair his injury. Given that they'd be without that piece for a while, targeting Jaylon Smith was a logical step for the Packers to deepen this spot on the roster once he became available.
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Money was not much of an issue with Smith's courtship as the Cowboys are set to pay the bulk of his 2021 salary. Dallas owes Smith -- who signed a five-year, $64 million deal in 2019 -- the remainder of his $7.2 million base salary. While his release was surprising, it does make financial sense as Smith's role along the defense was being reduced and the team ran the risk of his contract for 2022 being guaranteed due to a possible season-ending injury. Smith was set to make $9.2 million in base salary in 2022 with an $11.8 million cap hit. Now, he leaves $6.8 million in dead money against the Cowboys 2022 cap.
In four games played (two starts) for the Cowboys this season, Smith has totaled 18 tackles along with two pressures. In his two starts where he saw at least 76 percent of the defensive snaps, he had 13 total tackles, so he's still a viable option in the middle of a defense when given extended opportunity, particularly against the run. While he may be able to help the Packers in that regard, Smith has been exposed in coverage a bit this season. During his final four games with Dallas, he allowed nine of his 10 targets to be completed for 86 yards.