Cowboys, linebacker Jaylon Smith agree to five-year, $64 million extension

Cowboys Smith
Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith was set to become a restricted free agent after this season. (Chris Szagola/UPI file photo)

ARLINGTON, Tex. (UPI) — The Dallas Cowboys and starting linebacker Jaylon Smith reached a long-term contract extension.

The team announced the deal during a press conference Tuesday. According to the team, Smith agreed to a five-year, $64 million deal with $35.5 million guaranteed.

Smith was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the season, but he opted to reach a long-term extension now instead of waiting until the off-season.

The Cowboys selected Smith in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame despite a significant injury scaring many teams from picking him. The linebacker missed his entire rookie season with the Cowboys after suffering a major knee injury in his final game for the Fighting Irish.

Smith returned to the field in the 2017-18 campaign and played in all 16 regular-season games. He recorded 81 combined tackles, one sack and two passes defensed.

Smith started all 16 games last season and registered a career-high 121 total tackles, four sacks and four passes defensed.

“He does everything you want your linebackers to do,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told the team’s official website. “When you watched him as a college player it was like, ‘Wow.’ It leaped off the tape like, ‘Who is this guy? That’s the guy who hurt his knee? We’ve got to investigate that whole thing.’ And we did and we’re really happy that we made the decision that we did.

“I just think as much as anything else it’s a great story how far he’s come to come back and play, and I think that shows up every day in how he approaches it. I think he really appreciates this opportunity to be a pro football player for the Dallas Cowboys. And he brings it. He brings it every day.”

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Smith was one of several young Cowboys players looking for a contract extension before the start of the regular season. Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones are in need of new contracts.

Reporting by Connor Grott

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