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Mike McCarthy: Releasing Jaylon Smith a “big-picture roster move”

The Cowboys surprised with their release of veteran linebacker Jaylon Smith, but Mike Florio sees it as a preemptive move to avoid a potential injury in the future.

The Cowboys parted ways with linebacker Jaylon Smith on Tuesday and head coach Mike McCarthy discussed the decision to release him at his Wednesday press conference.

McCarthy called it the best time to make a move that doesn’t impact the team’s salary cap since Smith’s entire salary is guaranteed. The head coach called it a “big-picture roster move,” which likely references Smith’s $9.2 million salary for 2022 being guaranteed against injury and the team adding first-round pick Micah Parsons and others to the linebacking corps.

“He played a lot of good football for us,” McCarthy said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “In my time with him, he totally bought into the new direction of the program, everything we’ve done. The guy practices every single day, plays his ass off. I have nothing but respect for him.”

Smith was a 2016 second-round pick and missed his rookie year due to a severe knee injury suffered during his final game at Notre Dame. He started every game over the past three seasons, but he didn’t play well last year and saw his playing time drop this season.