While his notice of termination of vested veteran has hit the NFL waiver wire, it would be naive to think he will sign with a new team immediately. As transcendent of a talent as he is, last night’s arrest is only the most recent in a long list of off-the-field issues he has had since being drafted in 2011.
The NFL has been very forgiving in the past. Only four days after Junior Gallette’s off-the-field issues became too much for the Saints to handle, Washington swooped in and signed the troubled pass rusher.
Gallette’s most recent controversies weren’t so close in the rearview mirror, and NFL team’s will likely let Smith’s most recent arrest play out until more information is had before any considers bringing him into their organization. The details so far have been condemning of Smith, who was arrested for driving under the influence, hit and run, and vandalism, according to the press release from the Santa Clara Police Department.
Smith’s 44 career sacks leaves him as the 49ers fifth all-time sack leader, despite only playing four seasons and appearing in only 50 games. His 19.5 sacks in 2012 is tied for 12th all-time in a single season in NFL history, and only three behind Michael Strahan’s record 22.5 in 2001. Talent like that will almost always find a second chance in the league.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reached out to a number of general managers around the league, and writes that none seem ready to make a move to bring Smith into their organization at this point (via Twitter).
Mortensen notes that some of those decision makers have taken risks with players before, but with the NFL still investigating, none would be jumping to take a risk on Smith. He will assuredly serve a suspension before suiting up in a game with whoever signs him next, which further diminishes his value..