The Dallas Cowboys signed linebacker Jaylon Smith to a five-year, $64-million contract extension with $35.5 million in guarantees, executive vice president Stephen Jones announced Tuesday, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB.
Smith was set to become a restricted free agent following the 2019 season, but the Cowboys and his representatives began negotiating in the spring and talks became serious when training camp began, ESPN's Todd Archer reports.
The extension comes as somewhat of a surprise on the eve of running back Ezekiel Elliott's holdout. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in early August that the team was prioritizing extensions for Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
A devastating knee injury during his final season at Notre Dame put Smith's football career in danger. Dallas selected the defender in the second round (No. 34) of the 2016 draft, and the 24-year-old quickly developed into one of the NFL's premier linebackers.
Smith accumulated 121 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one defensive touchdown in 16 starts last season.