The Dallas Cowboys shocked the football world on Wednesday night, signing edge rusher Aldon Smith to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million.
This is what Jerry Jones does.
Jones, 77, has been the owner of the Dallas Cowboys since 1989. He loves taking risks. He loves giving out second and third chances. He loves the possibility of looking smart.
On Wednesday night, Jones is putting his money on Aldon Smith. According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the deal is for one year and worth up to $4 million with incentives. The base is $2 million. No guarantees.
Glazer tweets Smith is clean and sober. God willing, he stays that way.
Smith, 30, hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2015, when he suited up for the Oakland Raiders.
Entering the league in 2011 with the San Francisco 49ers, Smith was one of the best edge rushers going. As a rookie, the Missouri product notched 14 sacks. In 2012, Smith totaled 19.5 sacks, helping the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994.
However, trouble came in waves afterwards. In Oct. 2013, Smith was charged with three felony counts stemming from illegal possession of a firearm. In 2014, he was arrested and charged over a false bomb report at LAX.
In Aug. 2015, Smith was arrested for a hit-and-run, driving under the influence and vandalism. The 49ers released him shortly thereafter.
Since last playing in the NFL, Smith has been in and out of legal trouble. In 2018, Smith was alleged to have bit the wrists of his fiancee during an argument after drinking heavily. Later in the same month, he was arrested for violation of a court order instructing him to stay away from his fiancee.
Finally, Smith was arrested in June for suspicion of DUI.
Despite the four paragraphs of behavior above, Jones is willing to not only sign Smith, but give him more than the veteran’s minimum.
So why is Jones eager to take a chance?
It’s the same reason Jones continues to give Randy Gregory chances despite his quartet of suspensions. The same reason Jones signed defensive end Greg Hardy — who was suspended for the final 15 games of 2014 and the first 10 of 2015 before somehow winning an appeal to four games — for his brutal abuse of then-girlfriend Nicole Holder. Hell, Jones went so far as to call Hardy a leader.
Smith, Gregory and Hardy all enjoy the gift of talent. They can play. They can help win a ballgame. Jones has never cared about the damage they inflict on themselves or others throughout the week, as long as they show up on Sunday. His words don’t say it, but his actions scream it.
Now, he’s betting on Smith to stay out of trouble long enough to be an asset in Dallas.
For Smith’s sake, hopefully he can. Hopefully he’s a changed man with a changed heart. Perhaps his time away from the NFL has helped him find peace and love in his life. Maybe he ends up being a feel-good story in a world desperately in need of them.
Of course, Jones is hoping the same. But if he doesn’t? If Smith ends upon the wrong side of the legal line again?
The money isn’t guaranteed, so he’ll cut bait and move on, hoping everyone quickly forgets it ever happened.