Aldon Smith is back in the NFC West, this time with the team he spent the early part of the decade tormenting — the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks on Thursday announced they had signed Smith, a former All-Pro with the 49ers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but the NFL Network reported it will be for one year.
The signing came after Smith, 31, had an official visit with the Seahawks at the VMAC on Wednesday.
Smith spent the 2020 season with the Dallas Cowboys, his first season since being reinstated from a four-year suspension for various substance abuse-related issues. Among them: an arrest for DUI and hit-and-run in 2015 that prompted his release from the San Francisco 49ers and brought to a screeching halt a career that began with Smith considered one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
A 2011 first-round pick out of Missouri, Smith was an All-Pro with the 49ers in 2012 when he had a career-high 19.5 sacks in helping lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl. He had 14 sacks as a rookie in 2011 and then 8.5 more in 11 games in 2013, posting 42 sacks overall in 43 games from 2011-13.
With the Cowboys last season, Smith had five sacks in 16 games. Three of those sacks came against the Seahawks in Seattle in Week 3.
Smith had a 9.1 pressure percentage last season, which ranged 40th among all edge rushers, according to Next Gen Stats.
Seahawks edge rushers, meanwhile, combined for a 13.7 pressure rate. That ranked 30th in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Smith’s expected one-year deal is likely to be somewhat similar to the contract he signed last year with Dallas, which was for up to $2 million but included heavy incentives for participation, making it a quintessential low-risk, potentially high-reward acquisition that the Seahawks have never shied away from.
That deal included a minimum base salary of $910,000, with much of the rest tied up in per-game roster bonuses, something the Seahawks use commonly. Smith earned $650,000 in per-game roster bonuses last year with Dallas by playing in all 16 games. Smith played 809 snaps (73%) for Dallas last year.
Smith now adds to a Seattle edge-rushing group that includes recently re-signed Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, and second-year players Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson.
Taylor, though, did not play last season while still recovering from surgery to repair a shin injury suffered during his last year at Tennessee, and practiced only at the end of the season. Adding Smith gives Seattle some insurance as Taylor works his way back and more depth at a spot that coach Pete Carroll considers crucial.
Seattle also added free agent Kerry Hyder to bolster the team’s “big” defensive end position, which also includes Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. Seattle, though, may use Collier more as a tackle this season, especially in nickel packages.
Seattle at the moment also has only Cody Barton as a strongside linebacker, and the Seahawks could consider Smith — a 6-5, 255-pounder who played linebacker during his years with the 49ers from 2011-14 — help in that role, as well.
A report from SI.com Wednesday stated the Seahawks first offered a contract to Smith in March but that initially fell through due to concern over Smith’s “personal issues.” The meeting with Smith apparently smoothed out any issues.
Finally reeling in Smith ends something of a long courtship — the Seahawks reportedly tried to trade for Smith at midseason last year before acquiring Dunlap.
That came shortly after Smith had his best game of the season for Dallas against the Seahawks in Week 3 when he sacked Russell Wilson three times. Smith had just one sack in the final 13 games of the season, however. Smith has seven sacks in nine regular-season games against Seattle in his career and had another two along with a forced fumble in the epic 2013 NFC Conference title game won by the Seahawks 23-17.
Smith gives Seattle 64 players under contract. Teams can have up to 90 for training camp.
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