Cowboys Release LB Jaylon Smith

In a pretty stunning move the Cowboys will be releasing linebacker Jaylon Smith despite owing him the balance of his $7.2 million salary this year according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter

While there has been much offseason talk about when the Cowboys could get out of this contract I am not sure anyone saw this coming. Smith had started two of the Cowboys four games this season and had played in 56% of their defensive snaps. While he did not live up to the lofty $12.75 million a year contract extension that the Cowboys signed him to in 2019 it is rare to see a player cut in-season with such a large salary when the player also has a role of sorts on the team.

This will wind up as one of the worst contract decisions in Cowboys history. Smith was under contract to Dallas for $1.34 million in 2019 and would have been a restricted free agent in 2020. While negotiating an extension the Cowboys agreed to use a 1st round RFA value of $4.671 million as a placeholder for the purposes of calculating the contract value.

Rather than paying him the $6,006,678 for those two years the team wound up agreeing to an extension that paid him $19,006,678, a $13 million raise. He had a $7.2 million salary this year and that was fully guaranteed, bringing the total bill to $20.2 million in additional salary paid for Smith to appear in four games this season.

To put that number in perspective the Rams paid Todd Gurley $20 million to appear in 0 new games, which was probably the standard for bad contract decisions not involving a QB (Jared Goff was at $32.5 million while Carson Wentz was at $29.6 million), That is not good company to be in. If Smith signs elsewhere Dallas will earn an offset on the salary but most likely it will just be for the minimum, so in the ballpark of $770,000.

The bizarre thing is that Dallas could have avoided the guarantee by simply releasing Smith back in March as his salary was guaranteed only for injury until early March and I believe he was healthy at that time. It would have been expensive on the cap but they could have designated him a June 1 cut, carrying him on the cap at $9.8 million until June 2nd and then having the charge drop to $2.6 million. The Cowboys will be left with the full cap charge for Smith this year at $9.8 million and $6.8 million in 2022.

I was incorrect on the above information (Ill keep it as a strikethrough just to keep it) as Smith has been dealing with an injury which protected his contract back in March and forced it to vest. So Dallas was unable to release him even if they wanted to in March.

Unless something turns up regarding a non football issue there is little sense to be made of the cut. It is possible Dallas was worried that an injury guarantee of $9.2 million for next year could kick in if he got hurt, but they could have simply taken him off the field to avoid that. While his contract was bloated, the $7.2 million salary was not and they still had a few weeks to try to trade him even if it meant eating some of the cost since they are eating the cost anyway. At the very least they could have released him after the trade deadline which would have exposed him to waivers and maybe a desperate team would have picked up the contract.. That would be a low probability but at least you had a chance. Maybe they announced this in hopes a team will call them tomorrow as that is about the only logical thing I can see.

Unless there is more than meets the eye here everything about this process was terrible. It was a terrible extension decision. And it sure doesnt seem to make much sense to release him now.

Panthers Cut Graham Gano

Former Pro Bowl kicker Graham Gano will be released today by the Carolina Panthers. Gano has spent the last eight years of his career with Carolina but was hurt all of last year and also finished the 2018 season on injured reserve. The Panthers will save $2.95 million in salary for the year and create $2.75 million in cap space.

Gano, who signed a four year $17 million extension with the team in 2018, will leave the team with $1.5875 million in dead money in 2020 and $1.5375 million in dead money in 2021. The Panthers lead the NFL with over $42.7 million in dead money as they look to reset the books after a few years of some questionable contract decisions. While that strategy has not been very successful for many teams it was probably a necessary step for Carolina this year.

Bears, Panthers, and Patriots Make Some Cuts

While NFL Combine week is usually filled with rumors about free agency and the draft it often is the unofficial start of the cut season for teams. While some teams release players very early in the offseason most wait until now to kick that into high gear. Some players will be approached about pay cuts this week and others just allowed to walk. So let’s look at today’s action and the impact on the cap. Continue reading Bears, Panthers, and Patriots Make Some Cuts »

Chargers Cut Flowers and Johnson

The Chargers continued their roster purge today with the release of veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers and wide receiver Steve Johnson. The releases will save the Chargers over $10 million in cap room. Combined with the earlier release of lineman DJ Fluker the Chargers should now have around $23 million in cap space. They are a team with a number of holes so they may not be done yet in trying to find ways to free up cap room in the coming days.  Continue reading Chargers Cut Flowers and Johnson »

The OTC Potential Player Cut Series

Last January I put together a series of posts that looked at the possible salary cap casualties for each position. To make them easier to access I decided to put a link to each article in this post so you can quickly reference them during the lead up to free agency. Each article will detail the cap space saved by cutting a player and a brief explanation as to why I considered the player a possibility to be released. Continue reading The OTC Potential Player Cut Series »