Option decision on Aldon Smith looms

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
5:00
PM ET
We are going to hear a lot about Aldon Smith in the coming weeks.

Smith
The San Francisco 49ers' star pass-rusher was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport on charges of a false bomb report. He has a court date set for April 29 for previous arrests -- for felony gun charges and his second drinking driving arrest.

These issues, of course, have clouded his future with the 49ers as they must now make a decision about his future with the team by May 3. Because he was a first-round pick in 2011, Smith will become a free agent following the 2014 season should the 49ers decide against exercising an option for 2015.

Prior to the latest arrest, it appeared the 49ers would clearly give Smith the option, but that's now in question. NFL.com reported Monday night that the 49ers are not likely to exercise the option because they won't have all the information on Smith's legal issues by then.

However, others have -- including former Green Bay salary cap man Andrew Brandt -- opined the 49ers will likely exercise the option because there is little risk involved. Unless Smith suffers a major injury in 2014 that would affect his status in 2015, the 49ers have no risk. They can allow him to become a free agent next year if they don't feel they want to proceed with Smith.

But, by exercising the $9.754 option, the 49ers can lock in Smith rather than giving him the franchise tag in 2015, which will likely be more than $12 million or let him walk as a free agent.

If San Francisco doesn't exercise the option, it will be a clear sign that the team has many questions and possibly little faith in Smith. Watching this decision unfold will be fascinating.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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