Aldon Smith

Seahawks To Sign Aldon Smith

The Seahawks have agreed to a one-year deal with Aldon Smith (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport). The deal came together pretty quickly, following the edge rusher’s Wednesday visit. 

[RELATED: Lockett Wants To Finish Career With Seahawks]

Smith’s multitude of suspensions and off-the-field incidents kept him out of the league for years. He was pretty much off of everyone’s radar, up until last year when the Cowboys signed him to a low-cost one-year deal. Smith managed to shake off the rust, tallying five sacks, two fumble recoveries, and 14 quarterback hits on 73% of Dallas’ defensive snaps.

All of Smith’s sacks came in the first half of the season. Around that time, the Seahawks took notice and tried to pry the veteran away from the Cowboys just before the deadline. Even though they were rebuffed, they managed to get their man a few months later.

After recording 46 sacks last year to finish seventh in the league, the Seahawks have done their best to keep the band together. Carlos Dunlap — the Seahawks’ Plan B when the Smith talks fell through — was re-signed to a two-year deal in late March. Smith will be joined up front by Benson Mayowa, who has a fresh one-year contract, and fellow newcomer Kerry Hyder, who joined on a three-year, $16.5MM accord.

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Seahawks Host Aldon Smith

Cowboys free agent pass rusher Aldon Smith will visit the Seahawks today, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). 

Smith, once one of the best pass-rushers in the league, hadn’t played since the 2015 season before improbably returning to the field last year with the Cowboys. He played pretty well, considering the rust, racking up 48 tackles, five sacks, and a pair of fumble recoveries. In the midst of his comeback season, the Seahawks tried to work out a trade with the Cowboys. When they declined, the Seahawks pivoted to accomplished Bengals sack artist Carlos Dunlap.

The Seahawks have made a habit of collecting highly-drafted players in the later stages of their careers. Smith — the seventh overall pick in 2011 — would fit the mold. He achieved star status early in the NFL, making first-team All-Pro in 2012 with 19.5 sacks. Unfortunately, off-the-field issues quickly derailed his career and caused him to miss games in every season to follow.

The 31-year-old (32 in September) profiles as a potential low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Seahawks. If signed, he’ll join Dunlap and newcomer Kerry Hyder in the front seven.

 

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Cowboys In Discussions With LB Sean Lee

The Cowboys remain in discussions with longtime linebacker Sean Lee, according to head coach Mike McCarthy (via Jon Machota of The Athletic). The 34-year-old is a candidate to retire, but he is apparently interested in a 12th season in Dallas.

The oft-injured ‘backer is long removed from his days as an elite defender, but he could still be useful in a rotational role. Though he played in just nine games in 2020, he played in all 16 contests in 2019 (including 13 starts) and ended that season on a high note. He tallied double-digit tackles in two of his final five games in 2019 and finished out with 86 stops, a sack, an interception, and four passes defensed, leading to a one-year, $4.5MM re-up last offseason.

But sports hernia surgery delayed Lee’s 2020 debut until Week 8, and he wound up recording just 20 tackles while playing in 16% of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps (both career lows outside of the 2014 season, which was wiped out completely due to an ACL tear). If he were to return, it would likely be for much less than his $4.5MM 2020 salary, and he would be the fourth LB on the depth chart behind Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and free agent acquisition Keanu Neal. The Cowboys, though, should have a real chance to win the NFC East in 2021, and Lee may want to sign up for one more chance at a deep postseason run.

In related news, McCarthy pushed back on a recent report indicating the Cowboys have informed Aldon Smith that he won’t be retained. One of 2020’s best comeback stories, Smith is not a great fit in the 4-3 scheme that Dallas will run under new DC Dan Quinn, so the report didn’t come as much of a surprise. Still, McCarthy said the team remains in contact with the 31-year-old pass rusher.

“That’s still fluid,” McCarthy said. “I personally haven’t moved on. I was in a conversation yesterday about Aldon, so we’ll see how that works out moving forward. … We’re still talking there.”

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Cowboys Won’t Re-Sign Aldon Smith

Aldon Smith made an impressive comeback to the NFL last season, but if he wants a go around, it won’t be with the Cowboys. Dallas has informed the defensive end that they’ll be moving on from him and won’t re-sign him, a source told Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s interesting because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made it sound like back in November that he wanted to keep Smith in the fold. Werder noted in a follow-up tweet that the Cowboys’ desire to give Randy Gregory an expanded role and their recent signing of defensive end Tarell Baham both played a part in the decision.

Once one of the best pass-rushers in the league, Smith hadn’t played since the 2015 season before improbably returning to the field last year. Considering it was his first game action in five years he played pretty well, racking up 48 tackles, five sacks, and a couple of fumble recoveries.

The seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft, Smith became a star right away with the 49ers and was a firs-team All-Pro in 2012 when he had an eye-popping 19.5 sacks. Unfortunately, off-field issues quickly derailed his career and caused him to miss games in every season after that.

After a third DUI arrest in 2015, Smith was cut by the 49ers and signed with the Raiders, playing in nine games for them that season. It would be his last NFL action for a while. Suspended numerous times and denied reinstatement often, he finally made it back last year.

The 31-year-old showed last year he’s still got something in the tank, and it’ll be interesting to see who takes a flyer on his upside.

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Randy Gregory To Start In 2021?

Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has had a turbulent NFL career, having been suspended four times since he turned pro in 2015. Shortly after his latest reinstatement in September, Dallas showed some faith in the Nebraska product by extending his contract through 2021, giving him a $200K signing bonus and a chance to earn up to $2.1MM next season.

And as Jon Machota of The Athletic writes, the Cowboys’ faith in Gregory may manifest itself in another way. Machota expects the 28-year-old to serve as the club’s starting right defensive end when Week 1 of the 2021 season rolls around.

Gregory appeared in 10 games for Dallas last season, but he did not start any of them. He managed 3.5 sacks in those 10 games, but his impact went beyond the sack total. He tallied 16 QB pressures, forced three fumbles, and received a strong 80.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, whose metrics also considered him a stout run defender.

Given what he was able to accomplish with only three weeks of practice following his reinstatement — and considering that he logged 40 or more snaps in only two games last year — there is reason to believe Gregory will have his long-anticipated breakout in 2021 with a full offseason of work. Plus, the Cowboys will need to get as many contributions as they can from players with modest cap hits like Gregory, since there’s a good chance the club will need to carry a $37.7MM cap charge for QB Dak Prescott on the books until at least July, if not the whole season.

Dallas will be switching from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 look under new DC Dan Quinn, so Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence will form a potentially dangerous tandem as bookends of the team’s defensive front. Because another troubled pass rusher, Aldon Smith, is a better fit in a 3-4 defense, Machota believes Smith could be looking for a new employer in March.

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Cowboys Want To Re-Sign Aldon Smith

The Cowboys took a chance on Aldon Smith this offseason and, so far, it’s paid off. After resisting trade inquiries earlier this month, owner Jerry Jones confirmed that he’s interested in extending their arrangement.

The idea here is that Aldon is getting better,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan (via Patrik Walker of CBSSports.com). “He’s a bigger man than he was when he played earlier in his career. But that has a lot of positives to it, too. But every time he’s stepping out there, he’s gaining on it, and that’s interesting to be at this stage of his career. But he’s an absolute unique in every way pressure player. We want to maximize our relationship with him. We’ve all got a good one with him. Proud of him. Proud for him. Proud that he’s given himself this chance, and we’re going to help him do it. So, as I’ve said earlier, I’m a fan of his.”

Smith’s one-year deal — which caps out at $4MM — proved to be a solid bargain. After four years away from the game, Smith has managed five sacks across nine games. He only figures to add to his career total of 52.5 sacks from here, and he figures to do it at a rate to match his production.

At the bargaining table, Jones & Co. will politely point to Smith’s age in order to tamp down the price. In turn, the 31-year-old’s camp will probably note his relatively low odometer — his off-the-field trouble arguably means that he has less wear-and-tear than your average vet. Those negotiations will be interesting to watch, especially since the Cowboys will be prioritizing a new deal for Dak Prescott.

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Jerry Jones: Cowboys Won’t Trade Aldon Smith

Aldon Smith isn’t going anywhere, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says (Twitter link via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas News). Jones, while confirming reports of the Seahawks’ inquiry, stressed that he’s not interested in moving the defensive lineman. 

Smith has been one of the few bright spots on Dallas’ D, leading the way with four sacks. His one-year, $2MM deal has proven to be a tremendous value, and the Cowboys will be happy to double that amount if Smith achieves the necessary sack incentives. If anything, it sounds like the Cowboys will be looking to extend their deal with the former All-Pro.

The Cowboys have already addressed the D-Line with two trades this week, bringing Texans nose tackle Eli Ankou to Dallas and shipping out defensive end Everson Griffen. They won’t go for a hat trick by moving Smith before today’s deadline, nor do they anticipate making any more deals. With that said, Jones won’t rule out the possibility of making a trade before 4pm ET/3pm CT.

At 2-6, some have wondered if the Cowboys should seize the opportunity to rebuild. Or, at least, retool their roster. Then again, thanks to the state of the NFC East, the Cowboys are not totally out of playoff contention.

Seahawks, Others Inquire About Aldon Smith

The Seahawks made a deal to acquire Carlos Dunlap and will almost certainly have him in uniform in Week 9. However, the pass rush-deficient team looked into another edge defender recently.

Aldon Smith came up in a Seahawks-Cowboys conversation, with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com noting Seattle and other teams checked in on the re-emerging edge rusher’s availability (video link). The Cowboys’ decisions to trade Everson Griffen and cut Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley surely prompted teams to reach out to see if Dallas would be willing to part with its offseason find.

However, the Cowboys are not interested in dealing Smith, Garafolo adds. The Cowboys signed the former All-Pro this offseason, doing so despite Smith being out of football for nearly five years. Smith has been one of the few bright spots on Dallas’ embattled defense, registering a team-high four sacks. Griffen was the only other Cowboy with more than two this season.

Dallas signed Smith to a one-year deal worth $2MM, beating out Denver in the process. Another $2MM is available to Smith through sack incentives. The four sacks are the most the frequently suspended talent has registered in a season since 2013. With the Cowboys not interested in trading Smith, it stands to reason they will explore an extension with the oft-suspended defender.

Although the Seahawks rank slightly ahead of the Cowboys in defensive DVOA (27th to 30th), they have surrendered the most yards by any team through seven games in NFL history. Seattle’s nine sacks rank 27th as well.

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Broncos Reached Out To Cameron Wake, Couldn’t Agree On Deal

The Broncos continue to seek replacements for Von Miller. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the organization recently reached out to free agent pass rusher Cameron Wake. However, the two sides were unable to agree on a contract.

Earlier this week, Denver lost Miller to an ankle injury that will likely sideline him for the entire season. While there’s *some* optimism that the veteran linebacker could return towards the end of the campaign, that hasn’t stopped the front office from approaching free agent pass rushers. We heard the other day that the Broncos inquired on veteran edge rusher Clay Matthews. The team was informed that Matthews is “not going to play,” but agent Ryan Williams later clarified that he was “unable to come to an agreement with Denver,” and his client “remains open to playing in the NFL in 2020, provided it’s the right opportunity for him and his family”

So, the Broncos apparently turned their focus to Wake, who earned five Pro Bowl nods during his 10 seasons with the Dolphins. The veteran spent the 2019 season with the Titans, compiling four tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 11 quarterback hits in nine games. When the 38-year-old was cut by Tennessee back in March, he indicated that he wanted to play during the 2020 campaign.

Denver’s offer to Wake was well off its Matthews proposal, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Broncos also pursued Aldon Smith before the Cowboys signed him; Klis adds the team has not contacted Terrell Suggs or Ziggy Ansah about a deal.

Assuming the Broncos don’t end up signing a linebacker who can play this weekend, the team will enter the season with some question marks at linebacker. Former first-rounder Bradley Chubb has been working his way back from a torn ACL, and the team is otherwise relying on the likes of Alexander Johnson, Josey Jewell, Malik Reed, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Mark Barron.

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NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Parks

The Giants are planning for Logan Ryan to help at cornerback and safety. Joe Judge confirmed Ryan will play multiple spots, and Dan Duggan of The Athletic notes the former Patriots and Titans cornerback is expected to work in a hybrid safety-slot corner capacity (subscription required). Ryan played just 22 snaps at safety — as opposed to 855 in the slot — last season, but late in his free agency stay he began to market himself as a safety. Ryan’s 113 tackles last year led all cornerbacks and would have ranked fifth among safeties. Giants DC Patrick Graham was with the Patriots during three of Ryan’s four New England seasons. Second-round pick Xavier McKinney was set to play this role, but the Alabama product suffered a broken foot. McKinney had surgery late last month and is expected to miss at least two months. But he may well return to team with Ryan later this season.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Shifting to another team’s safety situation, the Cowboys did not view Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as a starter, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Instead of keeping the seventh-year veteran around as a backup, Dallas cut baitDarian Thompson is expected to start alongside Xavier Woods, but Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie, Daryl Worley and rookie Reggie Robinson could see time there if necessary. The Cowboys could recoup $1MM if Clinton-Dix signs elsewhere via the offset language in his contract, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Players like Josh McCown, Johnathan Cyprien, Dion Jordan and Matt Moore accepted jobs on teams’ practice squads in recent days. But Jon Halapio did not want to play such a role. The veteran center declined a spot on the Giants‘ P-squad, Duggan tweets. The Giants brought Halapio back last week but cut him Saturday. Halapio, who worked out for the Texans last month, is healthy after suffering an Achilles tear in Week 17. Halapio began the past two seasons as the Giants’ first-string center; he started 15 games last season.
  • Aldon Smith collected a $100K bonus from the Cowboys, per Archer. That brings his total in 2020 roster bonuses to $440K. Smith, who has not played since the 2015 season, agreed to a $910K base salary that pays out just more than $40K in per-game roster bonuses. If Smith were to reach eight sacks, he would collect $500K, Archer adds. For 10 sacks, the former All-Pro would receive a $1MM bump. In the event of a less likely 14-sack season, that total rises to $2MM.
  • The Eagles placed Will Parks on IR on Sunday. The veteran safety suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out up to six weeks, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. This year, teams can activate players off IR after just three missed games. Though, Parks’ timetable may run into October. The Eagles signed the former Bronco in March.