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The NFL rarely sees big-name playmakers changing teams midway through the season. Contracts are guaranteed at this point in the year, and the financial motivations mostly disappear after the NFL calendar turns in June. Despite this, headlines were made this week when the Cowboys released former star linebacker Jaylon Smith.
Smith, a former second-round pick in 2016, had earned a massive five-year, $64 million deal in 2019. He entered the league with durability concerns after his catastrophic knee injury at Notre Dame, but has been as reliable as they come. And he filled the stat book with 154 total tackles in 2020.
None of this stopped the Cowboys from reinvesting heavily into the linebacker position this offseason. Smith’s film wasn’t as impressive as his stat line or contract would suggest, and it was only a matter of time until the Cowboys looked to save some of the $9.2 million owed to Smith in 2022.
Now a free man at just 26 years old, Smith gets to choose where he can restart his career. We’ve identified five teams that must show interest in the 6’2”, 245-pounders.