08/20 22:06 CDT Cowboys, LB Smith agree on extension amid Elliott holdout
Cowboys, LB Smith agree on extension amid Elliott holdout
By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer
FRISCO, Texas (AP) --- When the Dallas Cowboys announced a contract extension
for Jaylon Smith, it was first a celebration of the linebacker's journey from a
career-threatening knee injury in college to one of the NFL's richest contracts
at his position.
Of course, it didn't take long for the focus to turn to holdout running back
Ezekiel Elliott, or the question of deals for quarterback Dak Prescott and
receiver Amari Cooper with each entering the final year of his rookie contract.
"There is less pie left," owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday. "Make no bones about
it. There is less pie."
Smith and the Cowboys agreed on a $64 million, five-year extension with $33.5
million guaranteed for the 2016 second-round pick. The average annual value of
$12.8 million on the extension is among the top five for inside linebackers.
The 24-year-old essentially lost a year on his rookie contract because Smith
spent his rookie season on the non-football injury list after the devastating
left knee injury in his final game at Notre Dame, where was an All-American in
Both sides said the deal came together in a matter of days amid continuing talk
of the missing Elliott, the two-time rushing champion who wants a new contract
while having two years left on the current one. Elliott's holdout has lasted
almost a month.
"For me it's about being a Dallas Cowboy for life," Smith said. "Really,
technically, with the tender year, the Cowboys have my rights for two more
years. For us to get an extension like this, is just a testament to how much we
love one another and we believe in one another as well."
Smith started all 16 games for the Cowboys last season, when he was second on
the team in tackles (150) and tackles for loss (five). He played in all 16
games, with six starts, when he made his NFL debut in 2017.
Before nerve damage associated with tearing a ligament in his knee during Notre
Dame's 44-28 loss to Ohio State in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day 2016,
Smith was considered a top prospect. While plenty of teams wondered if he could
play again, the Cowboys took him with the 34th overall pick.
"He has never complained," Jones said while fighting his emotions. "He has
never wavered. Never missed a workout. And he's never quit. Not one time. His
story is one that I would have done anything to be sure that it could be sure
that it could be a Dallas Cowboys story."
Smith struggled in his first season, in part because the Cowboys had to rely on
him more than planned because of injuries to Sean Lee. The progress was
dramatic last year as the defense helped keep Dallas in contention while the
The Cowboys won the NFC East, beat Seattle in a wild-card game and lost to the
Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round.
"I couldn't lift my foot for a year and two months," Smith said of the time
after the injury. "They were able to show their true belief in me. It's just
the beginning. I received my new contract after only 22 starts. So I've got a
bunch of starts left."
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