Jake & Stacy: How Aldon Smith’s arrest impacts Seahawks’ pass-rush plans
Shortly after officially signing with the Seahawks last week, defensive end Aldon Smith is once again in legal trouble.
Smith has been accused of second-degree battery in an alleged incident last Saturday in Louisiana, resulting in a warrant being issued Sunday for his arrest. Per ESPN’s Brady Henderson, Smith turned himself in on Tuesday and was released on bond. His arraignment is scheduled for July 14.
This is far from Smith’s first off-field issue. Smith’s NFL career was derailed due to legal and substance abuse issues, and he did play in the NFL between 2016 and 2019 as a result. He returned to action last season with the Dallas Cowboys after the NFL lifted his indefinite suspension.
Smith signed with Seattle on April 15 on a reported one-year deal worth just over $1.1 million, with over $100,000 guaranteed. But with this being the latest in a long history of off-field issues, Smith may not suit up for the Seahawks at all.
If that’s the case and Smith is suspended or cut by the Seahawks, how will it impact Seattle’s plans?
The NFL Draft is next week and Smith’s acquisition made it seem like Seattle would not be using any of its three picks on the pass rush. Does the situation with Smith change that? On Wednesday, 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy tackled that question.
“I don’t really think it changes their draft needs because Aldon Smith in my mind was the extra splash move,” Jake Heaps said. “It was that move that really put you over the top when it came to your pass rush. You already had a really solid pass-rushing unit before the signing of Aldon Smith.”
Seattle finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last season with 46, and nearly all of its pass rush is back in the mix for 2020, including safety Jamal Adams, who led the Seahawks with 9.5 sacks, and defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa. And before the Seahawks went out and signed Smith, they added Kerry Hyder Jr., who had 8.5 sacks for the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Heaps doesn’t think Smith potentially being cut or suspended greatly hampers the Seahawks’ pass rush heading into 2021.
“I think with Aldon Smith, they saw an opportunity that was too good to pass up price-point wise,” Heaps said. “… I truly believe Aldon Smith paired with Dunlap, Hyder, Mayowa and (2020 second-round pick Darrell Taylor) if he can get on the field would have been special. I think it would have made a major impact for the team and that Aldon Smith in his second year being back with the team would have had an even better year than we saw a year ago. But I don’t think (this news) changes what I think is the main priority for this team right now heading into the draft.”
Stacy Rost agreed that what’s transpired since Smith’s signing doesn’t change what Seattle needs to do in next week’s draft.
“I think defensive end kind of remains neck and neck with (offensive line) as the third need for this team,” she said. ” … The news about Aldon Smith doesn’t change, in my mind, their draft needs where suddenly defensive end becomes (the top priority) because nothing feels more important to me than getting a cornerback or getting a (No. 3 receiver).”
Listen to the conversation at this link or in the player below.
So what’s next at pass rush?
If the Seahawks do indeed part ways with Smith and they don’t draft another edge rusher, will they stand pat with who they have?
Later in Wednesday’s show during the Four-Down Territory segment, Heaps said he thinks there are three veterans on the open market who the Seahawks could bring in if Smith’s no longer in the picture.
“A guy like Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston or Ryan Kerrigan,” Heaps said. “Those three names really stand out to me as free-agent targets that are still out there that I think would sign for significantly less than they’re accustomed to signing for that I think could bring legitimately good contributions (to the Seahawks).”
Houston, 32, is a four-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in sacks in 2014 with 22 while he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 10 NFL seasons, Houston has 97.5 career sacks, including eight sacks for the Indianapolis Colts last year and 11 in 2019.
Kerrigan, 33 in August, is also a more veteran player, having been in the league for 10 years, all with Washington. Also a four-time Pro Bowler, he has 95.5 career sacks, including 5.5 as a rotational pass rusher in 2020.
Ingram is the youngest of that group at 31, but he’s been more inconsistent in his career. Ingram entered the league in 2012 and has been with the Chargers ever since. He is a three-time Pro Bowler with 49.5 career sacks, but he played in just seven games last year and didn’t record a sack. Heaps said Ingram has “crazy upside” if he can stay healthy and on the field.
“You could see any one of those players being a very good replacement for Aldon Smith if the Seahawks had to move on,” Heaps said.
Listen to Heaps’ thoughts from Four-Down Territory at this link or in the player below.