Dallas Cowboys: Aldon Smith’s reinstatement a positive first step

Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The NFL announced they’ve reinstated Aldon Smith, giving the Dallas Cowboys hope for having a competent pass rusher opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.

Last season, the sack leader for the Dallas Cowboys was Robert Quinn. The Cowboys traded a 2020 sixth-round draft pick to acquire the veteran defensive end from the Miami Dolphins last year. And that move paid off to the tune of 11.5 sacks in 2019.

Unfortunately, Quinn’s resurgent season in Dallas leads him to leave the team as a free agent this offseason. The now 30-year old inked a lucrative five-year, $70 million contract to join the Chicago Bears. Quinn’s departure left Dallas without a dominant pass rusher opposite left defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence heading into the 2020 regular season.

In response, the Cowboys signed former All-Pro defensive end Aldon Smith to a one-year, $4 million deal. Unfortunately, Smith was suspended at the time of the signing and has been since 2015. He was seeking reinstatement by the NFL to return to the playing field.

On Wednesday, the league announced that it has indeed reinstated Smith after he had a reported video conference with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, making him eligible to play this upcoming season.

The seventh overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Smith exploded on the NFL scene as a rookie racking up 37 total tackles and a whopping 14.0 sacks. His second season was even better, earning him both Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 2012 after posting an incredible 19.5 sack total.

Unfortunately, the promising young pass rusher’s career was derailed by his various off-the-field troubles. His violations of both the NFL’s substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies eventually led to his indefinite suspension five years ago.

Still just 30-years of age, Smith has a shot at redemption with the Cowboys this upcoming season. But it’s unclear exactly what to expect from him production-wise as he’s been out of football for such a long time. And as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk warns, Smith is potentially one misstep away from another suspension.

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The signing of a suspended Aldon Smith was a leap of faith by the Dallas Cowboys. A low-risk flier on a once talented player. The news of Smith’s reinstatement is a great first step on a long journey to NFL redemption. But the light at the end of that tunnel could result in America’s Team finding their replacement for Robert Quinn in 2020.