NFL Rumors: League Expected To ‘Come Down Hard’ On Aldon Smith

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Aldon Smith pleaded “no contest” to three felony weapons charges and a misdemeanor DUI on Wednesday. He’s expected to receive his sentencing — which potentially could include jail time — on July 25.

Now, it’s the NFL’s turn.

The league is expected to “come down hard” on Smith, according to USA TODAY Sports. Smith’s offenses include alcohol and guns, two of the NFL’s hot-button issues, and because Smith is a repeat offender it’s expected that his punishment will reflect that.

Put plain and simple, reporter Tom Pelissero said it’s a “matter of when, and for how long.”

Smith, 24, was arrested last month for allegedly making a bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport. He has previously been arrested twice for DUI, stabbed at his home, arrested on gun charges and involved a car wreck.

Last season, Smith missed five games while spending time in a rehabilitation facility, clouding up his future with the San Francisco 49ers.

USA TODAY Sports compares Smith’s situation to former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who received an eight-game suspension at the start of the 2007 season after violating probation on a misdemeanor gun charge.

That is likely the precedent for Smith’s discipline as well.

In addition, Smith could be sentenced to upwards of four years and four months in prison. That would likely cause the NFL to issue a multiple-game suspension.

In April, Niners general manager Trent Baalke stated the team is not giving up on the embattled Smith. Using the terms “disappointed” and “pattern of bad behavior,” Baalke said the team would stand by Smith.

“We’re a family,” said Baalke, via the Sacramento Bee. “You don’t just open a door and toss people out of it.”

Baalke backed up his statement by exercising Smith’s fifth-year club option for 2015, which was worth $9.75 million — worthy of a linebacker who has racked up 42 sacks in 43 games. His salary is guaranteed for injury only, which means the team could release him after the season.

It’s unknown how the latest obstacle in Smith’s story will impact his future with the club. The team was well aware of his off-the-field incidents and still opted to exercise his 2015 option. A suspension could muddy the situation.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.