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Aldon Smith suspension: Chris Mortensen league sources confirm possibility of early return

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ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Monday Night Countdown that his own league sources confirmed Pro Football Talk's report that Aldon Smith could possibly return

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Fooch's Update #2 - John Clayton reported on this earlier Tuesday as well

Fooch's Update - Ian Rapoport tweeted this further confirmation:

Add Chris Mortensen to the short list of reporters confirming that there is a possibility Aldon Smith could be reinstated before he has served his full 9-game suspension. The ESPN NFL report said as much during Monday Night Countdown.

This all began with Mike Florio saying on Sunday, prior to Sunday Night Football, that he had heard there was a possibility of an early reinstatement. Shortly after that, Trent Baalke told the media that he was not aware of that. Naturally we took Florio's report with a grain of salt, but later that night, Matt Barrows heard from a league source that it was "a possibility." Monday afternoon, Jim Harbaugh was asked about the report. He said he knew of the report, but did not know anything about that possibility.

Now we can add Mortensen to the list reporting on it. I probably do not need to write about every person reporting on the subject, but until we hear that Aldon is coming back, I'm inclined to keep a running tally of such reports.

Florio's Sunday report was not actually the first time he suggested the possibility of an early return. When the suspension was first handed down, Florio speculated that Smith's decision to waive his right to appeal could very well have been connected to a potential early return:

Given the speed with which this one moved, and given the potentially complicated interplay between the two policies, it's reasonable to deduce that Smith waived his appeal rights - possibly in exchange for the league's decision to allow him to continue to come to the facility while suspended, a courtesy that is available to players suspended for less than a year under the substance-abuse policy but not to players suspended under the personal-conduct policy.

Who knows? The consideration extended to Smith in exchange for apparently waiving his appeal rights could extend to a potential reduction of the suspension, if he manages to stay out of trouble. Based on his history, that could be a fairly large if.

It appeared to be just speculation, but it's at least worth noting.

The remainder of Smith's suspension includes the bye, and then the team's Week 9 game against the St. Louis Rams and Week 10 game against the New Orleans Saints. If the NFL is going to reinstate him, any announcement would seemingly come at least a week before the game in which he is allowed to play. Additionally, if that is the case, more specific rumors would start to come out before that. My guess is if he is going to be allowed back for the Saints game, we hear more about it early next week. If he is going to be allowed back before the Rams game, I would think we would hear more later this week.