Monday, October 3, 2022

The Cowboys’ former 2nd-round pick joins the Giants in free agency

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The Dallas Cowboys could see a familiar face when they take on the New York Giants for a Monday Night Football duel on September 26th.

There’s always added spice in an NFC East matchup when a player has changed sides, and Dallas is no stranger to that dynamic. The Cowboys recently signed former Philadelphia Eagles legend Jason Peters.

Last season, Dallas was up against former second-round pick and linebacker Jaylon Smith. It seems another encounter is on the cards as Smith returns to the Giants after a stint as a free agent.

“The Giants added veteran LB Jaylon Smith to their practice team and fired OL KC McDermott,” said Giants Official Editor Dan Salomone Tweeted September 19.

As the Giants confirm, Smith is currently only on the practice team. But it’s entirely possible that New York will sponsor him

Smith has been trying to find his feet in the league since his release from Dallas mid-last season. The linebacker reached Pro Bowl highs with the Cowboys, but the former Notre Dame star’s last two seasons in the league have raised questions about his long-term prospects.

In Smith’s final game against Notre Dame, the linebacker infamously tore his ACL and MCL, leading to surgery and a big hit for his draft stick. Undeterred, Dallas and owner Jerry Jones decided to “buy cheap” at Smith’s.

The initial gamble paid off as the linebacker didn’t miss a game in his first four seasons and made big plays for the Cowboys. According to Pro Football Reference, Smith had two forced fumbles in each of his first three seasons and eclipsed 80 solo tackles in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Smith was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl thanks to nine passes defended, 2.5 sacks and one interception. Earlier in the year he was extended to a six-year, $68.4 million deal per Spotrac, but that deal aged badly.

2020 was a good year for Smith, but the arrivals of Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal ahead of the 2021 season signaled red flags for the Cowboys linebacker. Aspects of his big second deal made keeping Smith as a backup or depth option an illogical decision and made him difficult to trade.

As reveals, Smith was fired in October 2021 and the linebacker was snapped by the Packers later in the season. However, the linebacker only made two appearances for Green Bay before his second release in 2021, a single tackle overall and playing just 27 snaps.

He made a bigger impression with New York after being picked up, notching a sack and accumulating 12 solo tackles in his four appearances. Smith has started two games for the Giants, but the team didn’t immediately bring him back for 2022.

The linebacker has been a free agent throughout the offseason but is getting his next chance now as New York welcomes him back ahead of the Week 3 fight against the Cowboys.

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