GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers didn’t land former All Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore but may have found help for their defense after all in former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith.
Smith reached an agreement Thursday morning on a one-year deal, his agent, Doug Hendrickson of Wasserman, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The move came less than 24 hours after news broke of the Packers as a potential suitor for Gilmore shortly before he was traded from the New England Patriots to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth-round pick. But the Packers did not have enough salary-cap space to acquire Gilmore in a trade because they would have to inherit the remaining $5.8 million of his base salary on this year’s salary cap. The Packers have only about $6.5 million in cap space and still need room for the in-season moves that injuries may necessitate.
Smith, however, fits under the cap because the Cowboys are on the hook for the entirety of his $7.2 million base salary this season because of veteran termination pay rules.
With the Packers, Smith could work his way into the starting lineup alongside De’Vondre Campbell, who has been one of their biggest playmakers this season, or simply offer backup depth. Second-year pro Krys Barnes opened the season as the other starting inside linebacker but missed last week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers because of a concussion he suffered the previous week against the San Francisco 49ers.
Without Barnes, the Packers used a combination of Ty Summers and Oren Burks next to Campbell.
The 26-year-old Smith saw his role with the Cowboys diminish with the addition of first-round pick Micah Parsons, the production from Leighton Vander Esch and the return of Keanu Neal from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Smith was a second-round pick by the Cowboys in 2016 even though they knew he was unlikely to play for a year given the knee injury he suffered in his final college game at Notre Dame.
He made his debut in 2017 and has played in every game since.