The NFL Network reported that a person close to Smith said the 30-year-old defensive end has been sober since July and that a position coach with whom he has been working was impressed with his physical condition. Smith reportedly also has “a close circle in Dallas now making sure he remains accountable.”
The seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Smith racked up 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons before beginning to pile up legal and personal issues. He missed five games in 2013 after checking into a rehab clinic following a pair of driving under the influence arrests the previous year.
Smith missed nine 49ers games in 2014 after he was suspended for violations of NFL policies on substance abuse and personal conduct. San Francisco released him in August 2015 following an arrest the day before on charges of driving under the influence, hit-and-run and vandalism. He was signed by the Raiders the next month and played in nine games for Oakland before the NFL hit him with a one-year ban.
That suspension was extended indefinitely, but Smith was reportedly on track for a March 2017 reinstatement when news emerged in February of that year that he was under investigation by San Francisco police for an incident of domestic violence. Approximately three weeks later, Smith was reported to have been a passenger in a vehicle that struck an unmarked San Francisco police car, leading to a detainment for public intoxication.
Smith was then arrested twice in March 2018 in connection with an incident of domestic violence, and he pleaded no contest eight months later to two misdemeanor charges. As part of a plea deal with San Francisco prosecutors, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of probation, and he was ordered to attend domestic violence counseling and perform community service.
The Cowboys, known under owner/general manager Jerry Jones to take chances on players with character concerns, gave Smith a contract last month with no guaranteed money but loaded with incentives that could garner him up to $4 million.
From @NFLTotalAccess: Roger Goodell and the NFL are confident #Cowboys DE Aldon Smith is in a much better mental state than years ago, and the league told him they hope his reinstatement can serve as a positive example for other players. pic.twitter.com/nM1fiqD9yb— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 20, 2020
According to ESPN, Smith earned his first $90,000 under the deal by getting reinstated and is set for other payouts if he is still in good standing on the roster in 30 days, at the start of training camp, after two preseason games and at the end of the preseason. The contract would pay him $910,000 in base salary for the 2020 regular season, per ESPN, with a $40,625 bonus each time he is listed as active on a game day roster. There are also major statistical performance benchmarks, maxing out at $2 million if he reaches 14 sacks.
Apart from the contract, another possible lure for Smith to sign with Dallas may have been the presence of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who was on the 49ers’ staff when Smith was at his most productive.
The Cowboys lost their leading pass-rusher from last season when Robert Quinn signed with Chicago Bears in March as a free agent. Having added Smith, Dallas now awaits a decision on defensive end Randy Gregory, who was indefinitely suspended in February of last year and whose substance-abuse issues caused him to miss the 2017 and 2019 seasons.
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