Aldon Smith just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and the San Francisco 49ers have grown weary of his off the field distractions. Following an incident last week in which he was accused of making a bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport, the former All-Pro outside linebacker could very well be on his way out of San Francisco and looking for a new team in 2014.
Aldon Smith has put up some eye-popping numbers since entering the league in 2011, he’s 24 and already has 42 career sacks. He is a premiere talent, one of the best and most dominant in the league at his position, and is as versatile as it gets when it comes to rushing the passer. Whether he’s attacking the offense on the outside in a two-point stance, or from the interior in a three-point stance, Smith has had success no matter what the 49ers have asked of him. Many teams would kill to plug this guy into their defense and let him get after the quarterback. The New York Jets are no different, and perhaps more willing than most to take a chance on the troubled star with their weak outside pass rush and depleted, vulnerable secondary.
However, Smith’s consistent off-the-field troubles and character issues are of serious concern. Multiple DUI arrests, drug charges, weapons charges — the list goes on and on. But again, we’re talking about a player that is just 24 years old. In the right situation, there is still hope that the young Smith could smarten up and learn to keep his nose clean. A trade or release could be a wake up call, and a fresh start in a new city playing for Rex Ryan, who prides himself as a players coach, could be just what he needs to get his personal life back on track. There was also reason to believe Smith had already started this process, indicating a desire to make improvements in this area of his life. He voluntarily checked himself into rehab this past September, and had stayed out of trouble until this past week.
Also, making “bomb threats” would certainly be a new addition to his rap sheet, and not something that is consistent with his previous run-ins with the law. It’d be wise to wait for more details on this episode to emerge before trying to determine if this was more of the same from Smith, or an isolated incident. He was described as being “uncooperative” after being selected for a second round of screening at LAX, which really cannot be that uncommon of an occurrence in an airport of that size. For all we know, a frustrated Smith could have merely denied having a bomb, with the word “bomb” being all security needed to trigger a code red at LAX. For anyone who has ever dealt with airport security before, would it really be that difficult to envision an overreaction of this kind?
The Jets have been in the market for an elite pass-rusher for years, and I’m guessing Rex Ryan would be willing to roll the dice on Aldon Smith. He’d have to convince GM John Idzik, though, that he is worth the risk. If he is able to do so, and if Smith is outright released, the Jets should be all over him. A draft day trade is also a possibility. It’s too early to determine what the 49ers would be looking for in a trade situation, but the Jets have draft picks to spare. They have a total of 12 in this year’s draft, and if a 3rd and a 4th rounder is all San Fran is looking for, I think this is an easy decision.
If Aldon Smith were to join the Jets, he’d be an absolute stud on Rex Ryan’s defense. The aging Calvin Pace was able to register 10 sacks in 2013, playing clean-up duty for the Sons of Anarchy. What would Smith be able to accomplish?
The addition of a player with a checkered history like Smith is a gamble if there ever was one, but given his immense talent and the Jets’ need at OLB, it’s a chance they might be willing to take.
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