Aldon Smith was arrested Thursday evening, and there are numerous issues to unravel. There are of course depth chart and salary cap concerns, but there are significantly more important issues in play. He could face numerous consequences ranging from a potential release to a suspension to serious jail time.
The San Francisco 49ers have not issued a statement on the matter, but given Smith's repeated off-field issues, odds are pretty good he will be released soon. Even if his option year had not been converted to non-guaranteed money, a release would seem likely. I realize people are innocent until proven guilty in the court system, but I cannot see any reason the 49ers can possibly justify keeping Smith on the roster. Considering the team released Ray McDonald after initial allegations last December, they cannot possibly justify keeping Aldon Smith on the roster.
If this was his first incident, so be it. But Smith would seem to have a serious problem. I get wanting to help him by supporting him, but Smith's alcohol issues are a bigger issue. He clearly needs to hit rock bottom and actually want to seek help. And I don't see how the 49ers keeping him around is not going to help him. Cris Carter is a good example of a player with alcohol problems who was released, and later found his way in the league. Aldon has to be thinking about more than his football future, but that is one example to consider.
And then of course, there is the potential NFL suspension. He served a nine-game suspension last year for a combination of his DUI and gun charges. Barring something unforeseen, Smith could potentially be facing at least a year-long suspension, and possibly longer. Again, he has not been convicted of anything, but that does not matter in the NFL's eyes. And in this instance where he is a repeat offender, I can't imagine anybody is going to defend Smith against a lengthier suspension.
The most important thing though might be the potential for jail time. Smith was given three years probation a year ago when he settled his legal issues. That probation included no alcohol. A conviction on these charges would seemingly violate his probation. If the DA's office was so inclined, they could really throw the book at Smith and give him some serious jail time.