Cowboys release former Notre Dame great

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Jaylon Smith will go down as one of the all-time “what if’s” in football.

What if the 2015 Butkus Award winner didn’t suffer a devastating knee injury against Ohio State in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl? Would he have been a top-five pick as many projected him to be?

And just how great of career may Smith have had if it wasn’t for that injury that likely stirred many draft-eligible players to sit out of their bowl games in the years that have followed?

Smith was released Tuesday by the Dallas Cowboys, the same team that drafted him in the second round back in 2016. According to Jori Esptein, Smith had played 56% of Cowboys defensive snaps this season, the most of any full-time Cowboys linebacker.

In full, Smith played all 56 games for the Cowboys since returning from injury in 2017, recording nine sacks and forcing six fumbles during his time.

Where he winds up remains to be seen but for a player who signed a five-year, $64 million contract extension in 2019 it’s hard to imagine him not getting picked up sooner than later.

And one more “what if” while we’re here.

What if literally anyone other than Brian VanGorder was Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator in 2015? Just how good could the Irish and Smith both been?

Related:

Current NFL receiver shares why he de-commited from Notre Dame

40 Notre Dame players on NFL rosters to start 2021

Notre Dame releases depth chart for Virginia Tech game

Stop overthinking things and start Drew Pyne

Reading between the lines it sure seems like Pyne will start at Virginia Tech