Broncos should aggressively pursue big-time FA linebacker

Denver Broncos should pursue Jaylon Smith. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos should pursue Jaylon Smith. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

In what most would consider a shocking conclusion to the Jaylon Smith era in Dallas, he was just released four weeks into the season. Should George Paton pick up the phone and convince Jaylon Smith to become the newest member of the Denver Broncos?

On August 20, 2019, the Dallas Cowboys and Jaylon Smith agreed on a contract extension that would supposedly keep him with the “BIG D” for the next five years at $63.75 million. Fast forward just two years, Jaylon Smith is now a free agent and able to sign with whoever he chooses.

This move is an absolute stunner to me, not the fact that Jerry Jones decided to move on, but how he decided to move on. It is mind-boggling that Jones was unable to collect any sort of value for the 2019 Pro Bowler. That said, George Paton can go sign him tonight and not have to forfeit anything but dollars.

If I’m Broncos GM George Paton, I am sprinting to the nearest telephone. Smith has racked up 516 career tackles in just four full seasons, along with nine sacks and twenty tackles for loss. Smith was the 34th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, where he was the recipient of the Dick Butkus Award in 2015.

One thing is for sure, with the Cowboys drafting not just Micah Parsons, but Jabril Cox also, that linebacker room tightened up quickly. That doesn’t mean Smith can’t play, his production alone shouts otherwise. Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Smith has played above 92% of the snaps each season, until 2021.

Jaylon Smith has seen the field on just 56% of the in 2021. His upside has never been doubted, after a horrific injury at Notre Dame, some questioned if he would be able to recover and regain his old form. He has put that narrative to rest if you ask me.

Since the incredible start to his career, Smith has seen a bit of a decline is his overall play. This season he has an overall grade of just 69.5, according to Pro Football Focus. That is where linebacker guru and Denver Broncos’ Head Coach, Vic Fangio, comes in to play.

Sometimes in life, we all just need a change of scenery. Who is to say that isn’t the case for Jaylon Smith? Not to mention the Denver Broncos just lost their rising stud at inside linebacker, Josey Jewell for the season due to a pectoral injury.

With over $28 million in current cap space, George Paton and the Denver Broncos can financially afford to take this risk. With Jewell and his other running mate, Alexander Johnson, both scheduled to be free agents next season, it might be wise to try to bring Smith in on an incentive-laden two-year deal.

Smith has been somewhat of a liability in pass coverage, but so was Josey Jewell before he learned the Vic Fangio defense. This defense does not press linebackers to be in an absurd amount on man-to-man coverage that could expose a said weakness. Much like offensive line coach, Mike Munchak, Vic Fangio is supposed to be a guru at the position he keys in on, so why pass up a talent like Jaylon Smith? Especially when you could use the depth at the position.

Avery Williamson, another inside linebacker, was just signed to the Denver Broncos practice squad this afternoon, but who cares? Double dip!

You will never hear a coach or general manager complain that there is too much talent on his team. If George Paton is able to bring Jaylon Smith in and Vic Fangio works his magic, this move not only could provide an answer at the linebacker position this season but one next season also.

If Fangio can “fix” Jaylon Smith, the Denver Broncos could have their long-term solution at the position without spending any draft capital on a said linebacker. I would have been all for sending a late-round draft pick to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys for Jaylon Smith.

Now you’re telling me George Paton can just outright sign him? I think George Paton should absolutely take the minimal risk. Also, the Denver Broncos travel to Jerry World on November 7th to take on the Dallas Cowboys and Smith could provide some insight behind enemy lines.

Potential rewards outweigh risk here and it isn’t even close. This is the acquisition that Broncos Country has been clamoring for, and it just fell right into Paton’s lap.

Make the move, Paton!