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Aldon Smith arrest and his 5th year option

Aldon Smith was arrested Sunday afternoon, and with the team's decision on his 5th year option looming, that has raised some questions. We break down the timeline and implications (as much as we can tell, for now).

Chris Trotman

Sunday afternoon, word got out that San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport. It took several hours for more details to arrive, but eventually, Smith was booked by the LAPD for false report of a bomb threat. This is an evolving situation, so keep an eye on our story stream for new details as they emerge.

One topic that has been brought up, albeit a little bit prematurely, is what this means for the 49ers decision on Smith's 5th year option. As a rookie in the 2011 draft class, Smith is the first 49ers player to be subject to the fifth year option of the new collective bargaining agreement. Smith signed a 4-year deal as a rookie, but it includes a team option for the fifth year.

The option is worth $9.754 million, and covers the 2015 season. The 49ers have until May 3 to pick up the option. If they elect to pick up the option, it is guaranteed for injury immediately. It becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the new league year next March. If the 49ers elect to not pick up the option, Smith becomes a free agent after this season if the two sides have not worked out a contract in the meantime.

Amidst the flurry of news, there was a small flurry of people asking how this would impact the 49ers decision to pick up the fifth year. The timing of this situation is not exactly ideal in that process, but it's also potentially too soon to tell how this will all play out. Without additional details, there is a very broad range of possible explanations for what happened at LAX Sunday afternoon. That range covers good and bad, so that makes it difficult to say with any certainty what this means for that option.

Of course, in the age of #HotSportsTakes, that just won't do! The 49ers released a statement after the news broke, in which they stated that they were disappointed there was a situation, but would have no further comment because it was an ongoing legal matter, and they were still collecting their own information. They have three weeks before a decision is due on the option, and they will take as much of that time as necessary.