RENTON — There is much uncertainty surrounding veteran defensive end Aldon Smith in his first training camp with the Seahawks.
There is, most pressing, a legal matter in Louisiana, where Smith has been charged with second-degree felony battery relating to an alleged assault in April.
Smith is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 24, and the outcome of that arraignment could put in jeopardy his availability with the Seahawks this season.
“I can’t comment on that right now,” Smith said Saturday in his first public comments since signing with the Seahawks.
What Smith did make clear was his motivation to continue to play in the NFL.
The 31-year-old former All-Pro was out of the league for four years while suspended by the league for various substance abuse-related issues. He was arrested three times for driving under the influence from 2011 to 2015, and he was released by San Francisco in 2015 after a hit-and-run arrest. He also accepted a plea deal in 2018 on a domestic-violence charge.
He was reinstated by the NFL last year and signed a one-year deal with Dallas. He posted five sacks in 16 games last season, and then signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks for the veteran minimum of $990,000.
“I was blessed with the opportunity to get back and play the game, and I’m grateful for that,” Smith said.
He has reportedly been through drug and alcohol rehabilitation inpatient programs multiple times, and he said Saturday that his sobriety is an ongoing process.
“For me, it was just making myself vulnerable, and then willing to trust and lean on the people,” he said. “I’ve always had people that were there, but I would always try to carry everything on my shoulders. So letting people help me, and accepting that help, was a major game-changer.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and team executives met with Smith “a number of times” early in the offseason, Carroll said. That defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who coached Smith in Oakland, vouched for him helped convince Seattle to sign Smith.
“We did a lot of homework, a lot of research on him as a person,” Carroll said.
Carroll said he’s committed to helping Smith continue his sobriety.
“We’re going to be there for him, we’re going to look after him — he’s one of us,” Carroll said. “He’s going to get everything we’ve got every step of the way. The burden falls on him, and he knows that. But it’s really important, I think, for him to feel the support. …
“We’ve been very upfront and very straightforward, and we’re going to be there, we’re going to be strong for him, and tough for him. And we’re also going to love him up as much as we can and help him through this.”
Wearing the same jersey number, 99, that he wore with the 49ers, Smith had a touch sack of Russell Wilson during one of the last team periods at practice Saturday afternoon. Smith sacked Wilson three times when the Cowboys played in Seattle last September.
“Every time I come here, I end up having a good game,” he said. “So hopefully now that I’m part of this organization, and I’ll be here a lot more often, I can keep the trend up.”
Smith joked that he was “kind of fat” while playing for the Cowboys last season. He’s listed at 6-feet-5, 280 pounds on the Seahawks roster, but says he’s closer to 270 now — which is right around his preferred playing weight.
Smith’s roster spot as an edge rusher end isn’t guaranteed. He’s competing in camp with another veteran, Benson Mayowa, for snaps behind starting edge rusher Carlos Dunlap.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity to get to play again, to be a part of a great organization,” Smith said. “What they’ve had here, I just want to be part of it. …
“Every day I just try to get better, and as long as I keep that mentality and keep learning and keep developing, you know, the sky’s still the limit for me. I feel like I still have a lot left in the tank and a lot to offer this game.”