Mailbag: Money Saved If Jaylon Signs Elsewhere?

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I personally love Jaylon Smith as a person and what he's contributed for this team. I was really hoping a new scheme would bring him back into his element. My question is why release him now, we still take a big hit this year so is it more about next year? Will we get any money back if he gets picked up by another team? — MICHAEL DITORE / LAS VEGAS, NV

David: At the end of the day, it's just a combination of feeling confident that the young depth behind him can offset the loss, as well as not wanting to get stuck paying his $9 million salary next season. It looks like Green Bay will be signing him. Theoretically, some of that money will come off the Cowboys' books, but I promise you the Packers won't be giving him a big-money deal. I think the savings are going to be negligible by NFL standards.

Nick: The Cowboys obviously felt like this was the best move for them long-term, especially if there was a chance next year's salary could be guaranteed if he were to be injured. I think they did the right thing. Play a month into the season and evaluate everything from his play to Parsons' development to Cox, Neal and Kearse. It just seemed like the right time to do it, although I must admit I was surprised at the timing. If he signs with Green Bay as reported, I'm sure it will be for as cheap as possible considering the Cowboys will pick up the rest.

There was a time when Jaylon Smith was considered an elite pass rusher. When did that change? With the injuries and other factors causing defensive linemen to go down, instead of Micah, couldn't the Cowboys have used Jaylon as a DE? — FRED KING / FRANKLIN, TN

David: There was a time when Jaylon Smith brought value as a blitzer and occasionally as a rusher, but I think it's a huge exaggeration to say he was ever "elite." To be blunt, Jaylon's biggest problem was his lack of speed and explosiveness. Pass rushers don't move in space as often as linebackers, but you still need to be explosive to beat an offensive tackle off the line and get to the quarterback. It's a different position, but I think the results would have looked similar.

Nick: I think it changed at the Fiesta Bowl when he got hurt. I don't recall him being an elite rusher here. He had a really good season in 2018 and then somewhat in 2019, but not as rusher. He's not the same as Parsons although I thought he could rush up the field but apparently they never wanted to try him there. If you're not explosive, there's not a lot of places to play other than the middle of the line.

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