The San Francisco 49ers are running out of time to pick up Aldon Smith‘s 2015 option for just over $9 million. They must decide by 9 pm PT Friday, May 2. Aldon Smith, of course, has not done himself any favors with his recent arrest in LAX for allegedly yelling “bomb” or something of the sort. His upcoming court dates stemming from other transgressions do not paint a bright picture of the future, either.
Nevertheless, this is a 24 year old young man who has 42 sacks in 43 career games and has an incredibly high upside. If the 49ers do not pick up this option for the fifth year of his rookie contract, they could very well lose him or have to shell out even more, perhaps via a much higher franchise tag number. Furthermore, Smith’s 2015 salary will not be guaranteed until March 11 unless Smith contracts a football injury this year. In financial terms, there is absolutely no risk to choosing to keep Smith around this extra year.
The problem comes in when the team considers Smith’s transgressions and the appearance that picking up this option would have in the court of public opinion and in the mind of Smith himself. Having supported Smith through many ordeals, the 49ers are wary of appearing to reward Smith for bad behavior.
Ultimately, I do think the reasons behind picking up the option for Smith outweigh the reasons for letting this be his last year under contract. Does that mean the 49ers will choose to take this route? Not necessarily. It would be interesting to see if they can navigate a two or three year deal for, say, 8 million a year if they wait until after Smith’s court dates are all settled. (Though this admittedly would be doubtful.)
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