FRISCO, Texas – The end of any season brings about untold uncertainty.
It's a harsh reality that no two NFL rosters are ever the same. With this 2020 season in the books, the Dallas Cowboys will lose players to free agency, while other may retire. They'll sign and draft new players to replace them. The machine rolls on.
In light of that, it's common to ask players about the future at the conclusion of any season – although Sunday brought about an interesting comment.
At the conclusion of his press conference following the Cowboys' 23-19 loss to the New York Giants, Jaylon Smith was asked about his future, and whether he thought he'd be with the team in 2021.
"I mean, watch the film," Smith said.
On the surface, it's a pretty curious question. It was just last summer that Smith signed a six-year, $68 million contract extension. He has five years remaining on said contract, and parting ways with him any time soon could be an expensive proposition for the team.
At the same time, Smith has been a lightning rod for criticism throughout this tumultuous season, with fans and media alike questioning his performance for a Dallas defense that surrendered a whopping 473 points this season.
For his part, Smith said he wasn't bothered by outside criticism, referencing back to the number of doubters he's had during his remarkable recovery from a gruesome knee injury.
"For me, it's a blessing to be able to play this game. So many people thought I'd never play ever again," he said. "So for me, I'm my worst critic and I'm my biggest fan. I'm going to keep battling, keep grinding."
It's an odd situation. The Cowboys have given no indication that Smith won't return next season, and his contract seems to suggest the same. At the same time, given the volume of criticism that's come his way – not to mention the size of that salary – perhaps it's a fair question to ask.
Famous for his positivity, Smith stopped himself from finishing his final thought. But as he heads into the offseason, he sounded confident that his play speaks for itself.
"The guys that know football and know our scheme and watch film – I don't have to speak on it. I don't have to speak on it. It's all love," he said.