Inside the Jaylon Smith deal

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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.

31 responses to “Inside the Jaylon Smith deal

  1. If dak still feels that he is worth over $30 million the he can go and play some where else where can get that kind of money and not be able to sign players like this guy!!!!

  2. it’s a two year deal with club options for the rest. total guarantee is a misleading number, as the injury guarantees are rarely realized by a career ending injury. his total guarantee actually puts him behind CJ ($51M) & Bobby Wagner ($40.5), and in contrast CJ got $43M FULLY guaranteed & Wagner got $24.5M Fully guaranteed, Luke Kuechly got $27M fully guaranteed (total $34.3M)

  3. Smith is a great story of perseverance, hard word, and dedication. This has worked out well for both Smith and the Cowboys. He and LVE make a devastating pair of LBs.

  4. Twenty million, or 10m per year in the first 2 years fully guaranteed. The next 2 years is partially guaranteed if Smith remains healthy and the funny money in the last 3 years he will never see. The Cowboys needed Smith’s contracts structured this way and used his injury to get the “hometown discount”. Again they kick the can down the road effecting future contracts. This type of deal won’t work for the 3 remaining stars unless their agents are morons. Those guys will want to see money and lots of it up front.

  5. With injury history it’s a big risk. And other huge cap-eating contracts still to do and needs to meet. Either Zeke’s traded or the Boys as usual will have to avoid the concept of roster depth.

  6. Good for him! The ACL injury cost him A LOT in draft position & $$. The Cowboys invested in a damaged collegiate stud ~ and now BOTH win. Happy this turned out well for both sides.

  7. Good for Jaylon Smith….as an Ohio State fan, it made me sick to watch what happened to him in the bowl game. Even though he lost some $$ over the first few years of his career, it’s great to see that his hard work has paid off in the long run. Every indication is that he is a good guy that works hard…..nice to see those folks get a deserving reward.

  8. Smith’s biggest goal was financial security after all of his injuries and the Cowboys wanted cost control. Good deal for both sides.

    The problem is the 3 offensive stars aren’t in the same situation as Smith and their goals are different.

    At the end of the day, other than posturing in the media, this deal has no bearing on those contract negotiations.

    DeMarcus Lawrence proved that Jerry will pony up the record breaking contract if you have the leverage. I am not sure how much leverage Zeke has but Dak and Amari will be the highest paid or they will be leaving.

    Odds are the plan was to DeMarco Murray him hence the early power play on his part.

  9. where are all the “so-called” draft experts now who said the Cowboys wasted a high 2nd round pick on Jaylon due to his knee injury, who’s laughing now?

    I couldn’t be happier for this kid, he seems like a real good dude who is also a model citizen and who will NEVER cause trouble off the field, unlike the dude who wears #21.

  10. Great move here by Boys ,No one has worked harder and represents the boys any better ..Zeke is getting terrible advice ,he’s got 2 years left and is getting paid over 9 million this year ,, better realize he’s gotta wait his turn behind Dak and Coop , btw if it’s true and Dak turned down 30 mil a year I wouldn’t make him another offer , these guys all deserve to be paid ,but none deserve to be highest paid at their position, especially Dak ,

  11. This was a smart move by the Cowboys. All 3 of our offensive players want top dollar money but that offense outside of Dak’s rookie season has been terrible. If they don’t take take team friendly deals let them walk. The defense is the Cowboy’s strong point. Keep the defense together and the offensive line.

    With a healthy offensive line itll be easier to replace or mask any hole left by any of those 3 players leaving. Zeke is a monster and Pollard is not Zeke but our rushing game will still be good with or without Zeke. I actually think Cooper is legit but you’ll never get his true value with Dak at QB. Offering Dak anything north of 28 mil is a mistake. 28 mil is being nice and inflated only because of the going rate for QBs these days. Realistically I’d offer 22-24 and say take or leave it. Dak is the one piece I know for sure the Cowboys can win without. I hope he proves me wrong but I just dont see it.

    Keep this defense together. They’ve been great the last few years despite the offense struggling.

  12. Like others, I’m happy for Smith. His injury in the bowl game was terrible. It’s a tribute to his hard work that he’s been able to come back and be the player he is.

  13. Thank you, PFT, for parsing the “guaranteed” clause of the contract for all to see. “Fully guaranteed” and “guaranteed for injury” are so completely different that it makes no sense for those numbers to be rolled together in the first place. Yet the media-at-large constantly perpetuates that NFL-driven fallacy. “Injury guaranteed” is really just saying “we’ll pay the premium for an insurance policy in case you get injured, but in lieu of an injury, we can just cut you and owe you nothing.” (In all probability, they self-insure, so they’re not paying an actual insurance premium, but that’s the net effect of it.)

    If the contract said:
    $1 fully guaranteed
    $100M guaranteed if the moon spirals out of its orbit and crashes into the sun

    NFL and media-at-large say: the contract has $100M in guaranteed money!!

    Fans say: WOW!!!!!!

  14. Ummmm dudes he signed a team friendly deal because he is a injury risk , Zek and Dak have been proven tuff , Amari well not so much …

  15. where are all the “so-called” draft experts now who said the Cowboys wasted a high 2nd round pick on Jaylon due to his knee injury, who’s laughing now?

    I couldn’t be happier for this kid, he seems like a real good dude who is also a model citizen and who will NEVER cause trouble off the field, unlike the dude who wears #21.

    25 5 Rate This
    I’m right here … what has he done … all pro ? MVP ? Pro bowl ?

  16. Why would any player n their right mind give a hometown discount to the Cowboys? Is it their foot in the mouth owner? Is it there 8-8 coach or his red hair? Is it all the Super Bowls they won last century? Is it the caviare crowd who won’t get off their fat asses to cheer? Show the money or lose the players Mr Jones.

  17. I’m so happy for this kid. This is a great deal for him and his family and I’m proud that he has the right people around him. Definitely not a Cowboys fan but I respect this business move right here.

  18. “officialgame says:
    August 21, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Why would any player n their right mind give a hometown discount to the Cowboys?”

    Answer: “…$19 million fully guaranteed at signing, and another $16.4 million in injury guarantees.” thru 2022 As an NFL player who’s career could end with another serious knee injury (or concussion) would $35MIL give you some security? Thought so.

  19. This is only a two year $19 million dollar contract. The other years mean nothing. Plus the only piece that matters is fully guaranteed.

  20. I noticed Jaylon while attending Training Camp in Oxnard CA. He was easy to spot because he was all over the place during scrimmages. I was surprised at the lateral quickness just a couple of years after that injury. My uneducated football eye brought memories of Brian Urlacher. I think the time was now for the Jonses. Jaylon’s needle is pointing straight up.

  21. This is what Jerrah wants. Players to take lower money so they will be barely be in top 5 so it looks like a bargain in a couple years when it’s barely top 10 if that due to the ride in contracts. It works when you have a QB like Brady setting a precedent but it’s not for every team and can backfire. Player careers are short and not all of them are cut out for TV so a lot of these guys need to make as much money as possible during their time.

  22. Good for him. He finished his college career by actually playing in a bowl game and unfortunately got hurt. It’s nice to see he has made it all the way back.

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