Aldon Smith is a free agent, but will anyone sign him?

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At one point in his career, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was averaging nearly one sack per game. That talent and production made it easier for the 49ers to stand behind him through multiple arrests and a nine-game suspension in 2015.

But patience had its limits. Even before Friday’s latest incident, the 49ers had squeezed Smith with the implied threat of cutting him before his fifth-year option salary of $9.754 million became fully guaranteed, getting him to convert much of the money to non-guaranteed payments. (He eventually made $1.1 million for being on the roster from April 1 through August 1, and presumably another $500,000 workout bonus.)

Before accepting the dramatically altered one-year deal, Smith presumably looked around to see what another team would have paid Smith if he’d forced the 49ers to cut him.

Now, Smith has to find another team to hire him; what another team will pay him is secondary. And it could be a while before anyone decides to give Smith his latest second chance.

With an arrest for vandalism, hit-and-run, and DUI raising issues under both the substance-abuse policy and the Personal Conduct Policy and given that Smith was suspended nine games last year under both policies, it could make sense to wait and see what happens between Smith and the league before giving him serious consideration.

But if someone wants to squat on his rights now, the smart move would be to insist on at least a two-year deal, since most if not all of this year could be lost to a suspension. (If the entire year is lost to a suspension, the contract would toll, extending the two years to 2016 and 2017.)

Apart from any league discipline, a new employer would have to be sure that Smith will once and for all find a way to overcome his apparent struggles with alcohol. After multiple trips to rehab, the issues remain. And with staying in the NFL not enough of an inducement to keep Smith away from alcohol, there’s no reason to believe just yet that the latest wakeup call will take.

Still, with great pass rushers a rarity and with coaches, General Managers, and owners hoping to compete for championships, a potential contender has to be thinking about what a focused and eligible Smith could do to make a good team into a potential Super Bowl team.

Intriguing landing spots for Smith include other teams in the NFC West, like the Seahawks and Cardinals. Or other potential NFC contenders, like the Packers, Lions, Vikings, Saints, Falcons, Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants. AFC teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Colts, and Chargers also could be intrigued.

Even though it’s possible if not likely that Smith wouldn’t be available until the stretch run, having Smith stashed away could end up being the difference late in the season between a team playing on Smith’s former home field in Santa Clara in February or watching the game at home.

56 responses to “Aldon Smith is a free agent, but will anyone sign him?

  1. He may be better off not being aboard that sinking ship anyway although it’s going to hit his wallet the most. He’ll get picked up by a team but who knows what will happen then.

  2. he may be in a substances of abuse multi time violation right now after last year’s suspension, similar to Josh Gordon. If he’s signed, then suspended an entire year, your team’s name is attached to any of his potential future legal issues.

    As for Smith, rather than sign for the minimum, he’d be better off going through the legal system, rehab, and let time pass to stay on straight and narrow. Then he can sign for substantially more money and could be billed as a reclamation project. Signing him now would be viewed much more cynically, with Aldon having to accept a fraction of his true on-field worth.

  3. He will probably be suspended for the season this time. He played the one year and did good, but he is of no use to a team if the NFL keeps him off the field because of his alcohol related problems. What kind of other trouble will he get in? I wouldn’t sign him without a years worth of proven sobriety and a plan to stay sober

  4. You might have well said “intriguing land spots for Smith include the entire NFL, other than the 49ers.” He’ll be in rehab for at least 2 months and suspended for the season.

  5. If it turns out that he was wasn’t driving drunk (or whatever), he’ll have a contract by the end of the week that is confirmed.

    If he was (and history suggests he probably was), he may get a short jail stint (90 days or so, tops), then do a stint in rehab to clean up the image. In that case, I doubt he’s get a contract this year, but by next year someone would give him a shot. The only upside to this scenario is that whatever suspension he would inevitably get would probably run it’s course while all that is going on

    With his age and talent level, plenty of teams are going to be willing to give him a short term, low cost (extremely for the possible impact) contract. With enough team protections that they can dump him at any time with no real cap implications.

    On a side note, if there is a coach out there that knows him, and thinks he can get him on the right track, I bet you could get him to sign for dirt cheap if you gave him 2 mil or so as a signing bonus so he had that money in his pocket for the inevitable suspension. But i don’t know that a guy like that exists, and they would have to convince a GM and owner to take not only a huge gamble with that money, but what could big a big PR hit (although that would probably be short term since Smith won’t be around)

  6. I’m surprised the Cowboys haven’t already signed him since they thought the world of Josh Brent and at least Aldon Smith never hurt anyone. Aldon has just the character Jerry looks for in someone–none.

  7. Many good reasons above why nobody will pick him up. Nobody has mentioned yet though that this latest incident is a violation of his probation and he could very likely spend some time in jail as a result. He will also likely get an indefinite suspension and during that suspension he’ll have to pass regular substance abuse tests which is probably going to be a real problem for him. I would not be surprised if he has played his last down in the NFL. He just can’t seem to help himself. If he was on his best behavior and really had changed as everyone thought, I’m not sure what that says about his life choices.

  8. What a joke, SF looks like a fool for Stamford by him now he gets to play elsewhere. Go figure. You can say the ship is sinking..but sadly they have more talent then a lot of teams after their awful offseason

  9. It makes a lot of sense to sign him right away to begin the new process of developing a foundation for support, mentoring, and any other assistance he may need to help him overcome current challenges.

  10. Broncos or Cowboys on that. Broncos will try to convert the alcohol problem into weed. On a serious hope, this guy needs to get it together. I’ve never thought he was as talented as he was made out to be by his great 2012 season because I think Justin Smith was very important to his success, but he is nonetheless talented and it would be a shame to see all of that wasted Odell Thurman style.

  11. I think you meant to say, “Aldon Smith is a free agent, but will anyone sign him as quickly as they signed Junior Galette?”

  12. As much as Aldon has pissed me off, I’m hoping he gets suspended a year, gets and stays clean during that year, and San Francisco helps him during that time (as they said they would). And he comes back to the 49ers, the team that stuck with him thick and thin, in a year ready to work…

    that plus an Anthony Davis (hopefully) return and the development of our young guys should put us right back in championship contention.

  13. If he spands his forthcoming year’s suspension in rehab – or at least 6 months of it – he’s got a chance. Otherwise he will be lucky to get the league minimum with mostly incentives and lots of hoops to jump through by some team who has lost a bunch of players to injury.

  14. what he needs is a team with “absolute structure”. Green bay, New england, NY Giants possibly Philadelphia.
    unfortunately for him he’ll get signed to a clown show dallas tops the list followed by The Jets, or the bills.

  15. Only a team that has a habit of signing bad character guys would take a chance on him. Look for the 49ers to sign him as soon as the dust settles.

  16. Let him go to Seattle please! As a Raider die hard and self-proclaimed Santa Clara Forty-Winer hater, it’d be great to see Aldon slam KaeperPick to the turf a few times for taking his woman. Oh the irony. And Aldon starting on the Forty-Winers home turf in Super Bowl 50 (L), PRICELESS!

  17. It makes sense that some team will sign him, that’s just how the NFL works. If you have talent teams look the other way. The confusing part of the article is when they say that the Vikings, Falcons, and Saints are NFC contenders. Lol!

  18. Its funny to me how when a player on a team has multiple run-ins with the law, and everybody calls for him to get suspended and cut, and then a day later you start with the whole “where will he sign next” thing…

  19. the usual dregs of the NFL will line up…of course Danny Boy & Jerry will be fighting to be at the front of the line…

  20. 9er fans just hoping he gets resigned with them again. Stop acting like you guys give a crap about dui’s and woman beaters. As long as they’re producing on the field that’s all that matters. But I do respect you guys standing by him. I get that he’s been a 9er as long as you’ve been a fan.

  21. No, the Niners faithful do care, we care because no matter how great he is, how productive can he be if he’s suspended. We care but I think he’ll sign with Dallas. He has raw talent but he has such a big disconnect on what is right and wrong. Or maybe it’s this self destructive vice he has with alcohol/drugs. He claims it wasn’t DUI but the police say other wise. The fact that he’s denying it, means he’s not come to grips how much control he has. If he is truly committed to saving his career, he’ll 1st have to save his life. He’ll be fine if he wants to be fine. Not sure the Niners want to take that chance, other teams will, once they know he’s truly committed to helping himself. Hopefully the right thing will be done

  22. If someone signs him, they’ll have to pay him to sit on the bench for at least for the whole year due to multiple offenses. I think a team shouldn’t sign him because it might help him get better. Aldon is a special player on the field but he’s a maniac off the field.

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