The St. Louis Rams have had a tough week to start the 2014 NFL season, but they have some good news this weekend. The team announced that defensive end Robert Quinn signed a 4-year contract extension that will potentially keep him in town through 2019. The deal is reportedly valued at $65.5 million, with $41.2 million of it "guaranteed" in some form or fashion.
The Rams drafted Quinn in 2011 with the 14th pick of the first round. Quinn has emerged as a terrific edge rusher, helping build the Rams line into a serious force. The recent loss of Chris Long is going to hurt them the next two months, but they do still have some tremendous talent on that line.
I bring this signing up in part because it is a big signing for a divisional rival, but also because it is easy to turn our attention to Aldon Smith. The 49ers first round pick in 2011 is signed through 2015, with the team having picked up his fifth year option. The option is only guaranteed for injury at this point, and becomes fully guaranteed next March at the start of the new league year.
Quinn and Smith can be compared for their pass rushing skills, but they also are doing a lot of different things in their respective roles. Quinn is a defensive end in the Rams 4-3 defense, while Smith plays outside linebacker in the 49ers 3-4 defense. Aldon moves into an end role in the nickel, but his is a bigger role than just that.
It is close to impossible to predict what will happen with Smith and the 49ers at this point. He is one game into his 9-game suspension for violations of the substance abuse and personal conduct policies. He has dealt with substance abuse issues courtesy of a pair of DUIs (yes, one was reduced to reckless driving after a first time offender program, but he was still drinking and driving).
I don't think anybody expects the 49ers to extend Aldon before the end of this season. My guess is if a deal does get done, it will not be until training camp next year. At the very least, I would hope the team would want to wait and see how Aldon does over the course of this season AND through next offseason. If he gets in trouble again, the team could decide to part ways. If he gets to training camp without getting in trouble, maybe a new deal gets done before he hits free agency.