There was a time when Aldon Smith was among the best pass rushers in the NFL. He was an elite player on one of the league’s top defensive units and averaged nearly one sack per game.
This is why the San Francisco 49ers had a tough decision to make when Smith was arrested, then arrested again, and again which led to Smith missing nine games during the 2014 season due to suspension. With each arrest the patience grew thinner. Both sides agreed on a change to his contract that saw the troubled player move most of his salary to bonuses for playing.
I commented at the time that this was an opportunity for Smith to bet on himself. Smith has lost that bet.
Smith was most recently charged with vandalism, hit-and-run, and a DUI this offseason, and the 49ers decided this was the final straw. With the league still yet to rule on a previous legal encounter, he could be sitting out the entire 2015 season. Smith is still an elite talent, so don’t expect to see him without a contract by the time this NFL season starts in September. However, expect Smith’s new contract to be worth much less than his last deal. Smith could have made as much as $20 million per season if he’d kept out of trouble. Now he might be lucky to get $5 million – far more money than someone with this kind of rap sheet deserves, but far less than what he could have made. It’s sad and depressing to see this sort of stuff as a fan of the NFL, and far more sad and depressing to see as a human being.