Cowboys Inform Aldon Smith of Stunning Final Decision: Report

Aldon Smith

Getty Aldon Smith

Aldon Smith, like fellow pass-rusher Robert Quinn before him, will prove one-and-done with the Dallas Cowboys.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Wednesday the Cowboys have informed Smith, an unrestricted free agent, that “they have decided to move on from him.”

The decision comes two days after the Dallas Morning News reported that although Smith fit new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s scheme, the team was “still trying to figure out if they want him to return.”

Perhaps to hedge against Smith’s departure, the Cowboys added several defenders during the first week of NFL free agency, including outside linebacker Tarell Basham and weakside linebacker/safety Keanu Neal.

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Successful Stint

Out of football since 2015, Smith accepted a non-guaranteed, one-year, incentive-laden $2 million contract last offseason — betting on himself with the willing Cowboys following a half-decade string of league suspensions and subsequent reinstatements.

The former first-round pick, a Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in 2012, flashed some of his prior form, collecting 48 tackles (31 solo), 14 quarterback hits, and five sacks (second-most on the team) across 809 snaps (73%).

Dallas strongly indicated they planned to re-sign Smith but apparently experienced a change of heart for reasons that surely will come to light. Still, the 31-year-old made a lasting impression on owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who championed his journey.

“It’s inspirational to see a man like Aldon Smith have the comeback here that he had,” Jones said in January. “He played some outstanding football for us. He certainly was more positive than not, and I think he can take this year and build on it, and we want him to build on it to the benefit of the Cowboys.”

For his part, Smith responded in kind to Jones’ gratitude. However, he never seemed to see himself as part of the organization beyond the evident trial period.

“I’m extremely grateful for the Cowboys giving me a chance. I mean, I appreciate that. I’m not thinking about next season. I really just want to — I want to win. I want to keep getting better every week, and I want to keep getting better every week,” Smith said in November, via ESPN’s Todd Archer.

Now seeking his fourth professional team, Smith joins a star-studded edge rusher market that features Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney, and Carlos Dunlap.

He’s also among eight unsigned Cowboys players toiling away in unrestricted free agency, a pool that includes former starting safety Xavier Woods and veteran LB Sean Lee.

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Broncos Emerge as Potential Landing Spot

It would be surprising if Smith did not find a new home in 2021. He’s a worthwhile gamble for any club in desperate need of pass-rushing mojo, or a cherry-on-top piece for an already elite defense.

The Broncos fall into the latter category and could choose to kick Smith’s tires, reports Woody Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette, citing Smith’s past relationship with Denver head coach Vic Fangio. The two intersected with the San Francisco 49ers, who used the No. 7 overall pick on Smith in 2011 when Fangio was the defensive coordinator.


READ NEXT: Cowboys ‘Likely’ to Sign Formerly-Suspended Starting Safety: Report

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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