After four years away from the NFL, the Cowboys took a chance on the former All-Pro pass rusher. As a result, it arguably turned out beneficial for Dallas as Smith’s presence was seen all over the field. He finished the season with 5.0 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, and 48 tackles.
However, Smith’s impressive season was not enough to get re-signed by the team. This move is likely due to financial reasons as the Cowboys are still tight with their cap situation. They currently have an estimated $10.1 million in cap space, according to overthecap.com.
Additionally, Smith’s departure leaves the Cowboys thin at the defensive end position. The former first-round pick started all 16 games last season at right defensive end for Dallas.
With no offseason moves to replace Smith as of yet, the Cowboys’ current replacement would be defensive end Randy Gregory. Although Gregory is arguably coming off a solid season, the Cowboys might need more than just him to make this defense scary. Last season, he had three forced fumbles, 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits in 10 games.
However, the Dallas Cowboys should likely look at a better replacement for Smith. There are still plenty of solid options at the defensive end position in free agency that Dallas could go after.
What player should the Dallas Cowboys replace with Smith?
With the second wave of free-agent signings likely occurring within the next week, the Cowboys might find their replacement for Smith during this time. One player that could be a great fit for them is Vic Beasley.
Although Beasley is coming off his worst season in the NFL, this could work in Dallas’ favor. Last season, he was cut by the Tennessee Titans just five games into the season and then eventually picked up by the Las Vegas Raiders. However, with both teams, he combined for just four tackles and one forced fumble.
Nevertheless, Beasley could still be a pivotal piece for the Cowboys defense. Before last season, the former Clemson superstar was arguably playing at an elite level.
In 2016 for the Atlanta Falcons, Beasley had a dominant year having 15.5 sacks to go along with six forced fumbles. As a result, he was named to the All-Pro First Team. Even over the next three seasons from 2017-2019, he combined for 18.0 sacks and 25 quarterback hits.
Beasley’s 2020 season can be considered an outlier. If the former first-round pick can get back to his eight-sack season as he did in 2019, the Cowboys could acquire one of the best pass rushers still in free agency.
It could be possible that Dallas chose not to re-sign Smith to try and improve this position. If that’s the case, then the Cowboys likely made the right move. Beasley (28) is also three years younger than Smith (31).
Although Beasley had a poor season, the former All-Pro only played 198 snaps in 2020. With a new place to play and more snaps, he could possibly play at a solid level again.
Even though it’s likely that he won’t get back to his dominant 2016 form, his value can still help the Cowboys. This move would ensure that Dallas gets their replacement for Smith as well as bolster their defense.