49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested this afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport following an incident where he allegedly falsely indicated that he possessed a bomb, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. The episode reflects poorly not only on a Niners team that has dealt with several off-the-field issues over the past month (the Colin Kaepernick investigation and the Chris Culliver arrest), but also on Smith himself, who has been embroiled in personal struggles over the past year, including missing five games last season while spending time in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.
This incident could have implications on Smith’s future with the 49ers: as ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson points out, the team has not decided whether to pick up the fifth-year option they hold on Smith. If San Francisco decides that the young edge rusher’s personal issues make him too difficult to trust, they could opt to decline the option, estimated to be worth more than $9MM. The deadline to decide on the option is May 3.
Other news from the NFC:
- Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News examines the Cowboys draft strategy regarding developmental quarterbacks, and wonders why the team hasn’t copied the strategy of the Patriots and Packers and drafted an heir apparent to Tony Romo.
- The Seahawks might look ahead to 2015 needs rather than simply draft to fill immediate positional vacancies in the upcoming draft, writes Andy Benoit of the MMQB.com. Seahawks general manager John Schneider is a forward-thinking executive, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him eschew a pressing receiver need in favor of stockpiling defensive talent.
- Byron Bell is expected to slide from right to left tackle for the Panthers, helping to replace the void created by Jordan Gross‘ retirement, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. Bell was below-average last season according to Pro Football Focus (-2.8 grade), but both Gross and coach Ron Rivera think Bell should be much improved in 2014. Additionally, Carolina’s tight cap situation meant they couldn’t sign a free agent left tackle, and the premier options in the draft likely won’t last until pick No. 28, so Bell looks to be the team’s only option.