The Dallas Cowboys shocked the NFL world when they released veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had been a fixture in the Cowboys offense since 2010.
The Dallas Cowboys have gotten off to a good start this season, thanks in large part to a much-improved defense.
For a long time, the Cowboys have failed to produce a decent defense, but that is slowly changing thanks to the appointment of Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator and the draft acquisition of a few rising studs. Trevon Diggs, a second-year cornerback, and Micah Parsons, a rookie linebacker, have performed like rising stars this season.
Members of the old guard are being put to the chopping block while a new guard seems to be taking control.
LB was released by the Cowboys. Smith, Jaylon
According to a source, the Cowboys dismissed LB Jaylon Smith during the season.
October 6, 2021 — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)
Jaylon Smith was formerly considered a key component of the Cowboys’ defense. Dallas not only selected him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but they also gave him a big contract extension only a few years later.
In 2019, Smith signed to a five-year, $64 million contract deal with the Cowboys, thus locking him into a starting position for the rest of his NFL career. Smith will remain in Dallas until 2024 after signing the contract, which included $35.5 million in guaranteed money.
Regrettably, Smith’s decline began sooner than Jerry Jones and the Cowboys had anticipated. In 2020, his coverage ratings started to decline, and he was often caught making stupid fouls and mental errors. Opposing attacks would often target Smith over the middle of the field in an attempt to expose his rapidly fading abilities.
Smith’s release by the Cowboys after four games into the regular season is unexpected (especially considering how much money they still owe him). However, the writing has been on the wall since spring.
Micah Parsons is the defense’s undisputed leader.
When the Cowboys selected Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, some questioned the rationale.
The Cowboys needed to strengthen their defense, but Smith and fellow veteran Leighton Vander Esch seemed to be set at linebacker. Parson’s rookie season is just four games old, and it’s obvious why they (really) selected him.
Dallas wants Parsons to be a full-time starter in lieu of Smith and Vander Esch, not just a backup.
Although it’s early, Parsons seems to be a franchise linebacker. He’s already piled up 2.5 sacks, 17 tackles, three tackles for a loss, and seven quarterback hits, demonstrating his versatility as a member of the Cowboys’ defense. Parsons is now stepping in as a go-to pass-rusher for Dan Quinn in place of injured defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, something Smith could never accomplish.
The Cowboys are placing a lot of on on Parsons to keep up his stellar performance.
Harry How/Getty Images/Micah Parsons
It’s not unheard of to cut a veteran to create room for a promising youngster. However, one has to question whether the Cowboys were a little ahead of schedule here.
Parsons is having an outstanding season, but the onus is now on him to lead the Dallas defense.
With Dak Prescott back in the lineup, anything less than an NFC East title would be a huge disappointment in Dallas. On defense, the Cowboys are putting all their eggs in the “Micah Parsons basket,” believing he’ll be good enough to keep the club on track.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
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