At least four NFL teams have interest in signing ex-49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, but everything is in a holding pattern at the moment, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). The NFL has yet to make a decision on a possible punishment for Smith and, as a result, teams are wary of signing him. If Smith were to sign with a club and then receive a year-long suspension, that would be a PR embarrassment for both the team and the league.
Smith, 25, was arrested by Santa Clara police on hit and run, DUI, and vandalism charges, though when he was released from jail in August, the outside linebacker disputed the fact that he had been driving under the influence. The incident was the latest in a series of off-field run-ins for Smith, who has had DUI arrests in the past, and missed nearly half the 49ers’ games over the last two seasons after entering a rehabilitation facility in 2013 and serving a nine-game suspension in 2014.
When he’s healthy and on the field, Smith can be one of the league’s most effective pass rushers, as he exhibited during his first two years in the NFL. As a part-time player in his rookie season, Smith recorded 14 sacks, and he piled up another 19.5 as a starter in 2012, en route to a spot on the All-Pro first team. However, his off-field issues have limited his production since then.
With 44 career sacks, Smith stands 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.