The San Francisco 49ers may be waiting on the legal ramifications of linebacker Aldon Smith‘s bomb threat at LAX, but the team is foolish if it doesn’t plan on releasing him.
If a player has off-the-field issues, NFL teams are willing to work with him if he is talented and can prove that he can show up and do his job. From Michael Vick to DeSean Jackson, players who commit crimes or have a potentially checkered past are able to find work if a team is willing to take the risk. With Smith, however, his talent level is not worth the headache that Jim Harbaugh and company have to endure for the 2014 season.
The first issue with keeping Smith on the roster is that it sets a bad precedent for team behavior that already has a tarnished image this offseason. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently found himself in what authorities have called a “suspicious incident” involving a woman and several other players, and an investigation could find the young signal caller in legal trouble. Some players are known for pushing boundaries, and younger plays may act out if there are little or no ramifications for the actions of Kaepernick and Smith handed down from the team.
The other big problem that San Francisco will have if it chooses to keep Smith on the team is that he could find himself missing most of the season. Not only is he looking at a potential suspension from the league, but he may also have to serve a jail sentence for his previous DUI charges and felony counts for possessing an assault weapon. If he can’t be on the field, why would the organization pay a player who is going to do nothing but tarnish its image?
While Smith is a talented player, he is not worth the distraction for a team that is continuously falling short of winning a Super Bowl.