Finally, the Dallas Cowboys extended a player during training camp! No, it wasn’t Amari, Dak or Zeke but rather the linebacker that has quickly becoming a fan favorite, Jaylon Smith.
Smith, the 34th overall player taken in the 2016 NFL draft, signed a new 5-year contract extension worth $64 million with the Cowboys. Smith will have $35.5 million of the contract guaranteed with him seeing $20 million in the next 16 months in the form of signing bonuses and base salary. It was the payday he deserved after failing out of the first-round, though he is lucky to have found a team in the Cowboys that believed in him.
We all know the story. Jaylon Smith was an outstanding player coming out of Notre Dame and considered by many a rare talent that was deserving of a top-3 pick in that year’s draft. Then came the Fiesta Bowl, where he had a severe knee injury which caused extensive nerve damage. The Cowboys, with knowledge from their team doctors that he would recover, took the chance on Jaylon and drafted him.
Since that day, a lot of people down played that this kid would have any future in football and some even speculated he would never set foot on the field. When he finally did play, he struggled and it caused more uproar from the so-called “experts” claiming he was just another wasted pick. I am guilty of it too, writing this article, claiming that Smith is too positive to see the truth and that the Cowboys should even move on from him.
Smith never once listened to what others said and kept up his positive message of hope. Since 2016, the young linebacker would take to twitter to document his rehab and return to football, always giving a positive response to any of the doubters. He created a hashtag called the Clear Eye View, which became his mantra and showed he has his focus on one thing, to get back being a great player again. It worked so well, talking to him made you believe that it could happen.
“Never heard him complain, never waiver, never missed a workout and never quit,” Owner Jerry Jones said. “Not once.”
All that hard work and believe in God and himself paid off in 2018, when Smith fully recovered and took over as the starting linebacker with rookie Leighton Vander Esch. They created one of the league’s best linebacking duos and helped solidify the middle of the Dallas defense. Just watching him play, you knew his quickness, his intensity and his footwork were all back and it looked like he was the same player from college.
It showed up on the tape and on the stat sheet as he had 80 tackles, six of them going for a loss. He also had four sacks, two forced fumbles and recoveries and returned one of them for a touchdown. Smith was named to his first pro bowl and cemented himself as an elite player.
The positive vibe of Smith never wavered and it helped led to this new deal with the Cowboys. They believed in him and he believed in this team and had bought in. That is why when Smith and his reps went to the Cowboys for a deal it got done within a week. Both sides wanted this to continue and see what more can the positive spirit of Jaylon Smith bring to this team and the fan base.
Three years ago, Jaylon Smith told his he would prove the doubters wrong. His Clear Eye View proved us all wrong in the end. I am truly sorry Jaylon and here is to seeing what your Clear Eye View brings this city and team in the future.
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