Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith has come a long way from a torn ACL that derailed his career and caused him to plunge out of the top 10, losing millions in the process. After one season as a full-time starter, he has now received millions, in the form of a second contract.
Here are the Smith terms, per a source with knowledge of the deal.
1. Signing bonus: $5 million.
2. 2019 base salary: $835,678, fully guaranteed.
3. 2020 option bonus: $8 million, due on the fifth day of the league year, fully guaranteed.
4.2020 base salary: $5.171 million, fully guaranteed.
5. 2021 base salary: $7.2 million, guaranteed for injury; fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2021 league year.
6. 2022 base salary: $9.2 million; guaranteed for injury; fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.
7. 2023 base salary: $11 million.
8. 2024 base salary: $11 million.
9. 2025 base salary: $12.35 million.
The deal also has a $500,000 annual de-escalator, if he fails to participate in 90 percent of the offseason workouts.
The contract includes $19 million fully guaranteed at signing, and another $16.4 million in injury guarantees.
Smith’s new contract runs through 2025. It’s a six-year extension through the end of his rookie deal but a five-year extension beyond the no-brainer restricted free agency tender that the Cowboys most likely would have applied at a first-round level. (Smith’s inability to play as a rookie made him ineligible for the franchise tag in 2020.)
The new-money average of $12.75 million puts Smith at No. 5 among all inside linebackers, but the total guarantee of $35.4 million puts him at No. 2, only behind Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley.
For Smith, the guarantee is the key. Not long ago, it appeared he’d never reach his full NFL potential. He quickly has, and he needed to grab the cash while he could — especially in light of the inherent dangers of the linebacker position and his specific injury history, a torn ACL that wiped out his first season and kept him from reaching his stride until his three NFL campaign.