The San Francisco 49ers would have released outside linebacker Aldon Smith had he not agreed to do away with the guarantees for his 2015 base salary, according to a report from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Smith wasn't likely to get a contract similar to the revised deal he wound up signing on the open market, per the report.
It's hard to disagree with that latter statement -- I know Smith has a ton of upside and was ridiculous in his first couple seasons, but getting close to $10 million for 2015 in any form was likely not going to happen, not with the off-the-field issues that come with him.
This report does go against what Smith's own agent, Doug Hendrickson told Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area -- namely that the 49ers did not give Smith an ultimatum. While we have our fun with PFT here and there, this report seems far more likely than the statement from Smith's agent, who wasn't going to come out and admit his client was about to be released.
Since we took a look at the salary cap implications on Friday there's actually been some new information about Smith's deal. It's a $9.754 million contract as before, and we already knew that he had to actually play to get the money, but it also turns out that $2 million of that is tied up in a performance incentive. He has to play in over 50 percent of the defensive snaps or record eight sacks to make that $2 million, according to Field Yates of ESPN.
So it's an even friendlier deal for the team. Obviously, if Smith is staying out of trouble, then he's playing in games, playing the majority of the snaps and I think everyone here expects much more than eight sacks in that scenario. If Smith keeps his nose clean, that $2 million is his and there's no reason to suspect otherwise.
But it's very interesting to see that the 49ers held so much power in these negotiations. For Smith, he could be OK with this as he feels he's legitimately turned a corner when it comes to his off-the-field issues. Or perhaps he's just concerned with being in a good position to put up big numbers to earn a huge deal next offseason -- the 49ers are probably the best place for him to do that.