In a surprise move, the Cowboys are releasing linebacker Jaylon Smith, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
They explored trade opportunities and still have until 4 p.m. ET Wednesday to find a trade partner, but it seems unlikely that will happen.
Smith was a great comeback story after a severe knee injury in his final game at Notre Dame. The Cowboys made Smith a second-round choice in 2016 anyway, knowing his rookie season would serve as a redshirt season as he rehabbed.
Smith played more than 92 percent of the team’s defensive snaps the past three seasons, including 98 percent last season.
The Cowboys, though, drafted linebacker Micah Parsons in the first round this spring after they gave up the most points in franchise history. Smith played fewer than 50 percent of the defensive snaps in two of four games this season.
The Cowboys owe Smith the remainder of his $7.2 million base salary this year.
Smith’s contract was guaranteed for injury for 2022. He was scheduled to make $9.2 million in base salary and count $11.8 million against the salary cap next season.