Earlier today, the Dallas Cowboys inked linebacker Jaylon Smith to a five-year contract extension worth more than $60 million. Smith will make $35 million in guaranteed money.
This is an incredible development considering what Smith had to go through to get to this point. During his junior season at Notre Dame, he was projected to be a top-three pick in the NFL Draft.
Then, in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1, 2016, Smith suffered a devastating leg injury. Not only did it ruin his draft stock, it left his career hanging in the balance.
The Cowboys took him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but Smith did not play as a rookie. He eventually recovered enough from his injury to record 81 tackles in 16 games (six starts) in 2017.
Last year, Smith started all 16 games and recorded 121 tackles and four sacks. The Cowboys clearly think his best days are ahead of him as well.
A grateful Smith posted an inspirational message on Twitter this afternoon after a press conference announcing his new contract.
3 and a half years ago on Jan 1st, 2016,
Tears in my eyes,
My life changed forever.
I embraced each moment.
I had a focused vision, determined belief and now I have earned one of my dreams! #ClearEyeView | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/xqNDGFNSFS
— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) August 20, 2019
Anyone who watched Smith’s injury live remembers how sickening it was. In the moment, it seemed like we just saw a promising career end before it could get started.
His comeback has made him an easy player to root for in the NFL.