Cowboys take a chance on Aldon Smith, who’s reportedly ‘clean and sober’

The Cowboys are once again taking on a player with a troubled past. Dallas has signed outside linebacker Aldon Smith to a one-year, $4 million contract, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

Smith hasn’t played a down of football since he was suspended by the NFL in 2015 for violating its substance-abuse policy. The Cowboys, it appears, believe he has turned over a new leaf.

“Clean and sober now, incredible how much he’s turned his life around,” Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer said on Football Now in reporting on the signing.

This is hardly the first time Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has gambled on a controversial player: Alonzo Spellman, Dimitrius Underwood, Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory are just a few examples.

Smith was as good as any pass-rusher in the league at the beginning of his career after being selected seventh overall by the 49ers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He recorded 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons and 8.5 more in 11 games in 2013, after he missed time early that season. The 49ers placed him on leave on Sept. 20 after his arrest in California on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession.

The NFL suspended Smith for nine games to start the 2014 season after he made a false bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport and pleaded no contest to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence. The next summer, the 49ers released him after he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, hit and run and vandalism.

The Raiders signed him a month after his release, but nine games into the 2015 season he was suspended for one year by the league for violating its substance-abuse policy. He hasn’t seen the field since.

A report by NFL Media in March indicated Smith was in the process of applying for reinstatement. The league’s new collective bargaining agreement eases restrictions in the substance-abuse policy, but the procedures for reinstatement are the same, which means commissioner Roger Goodell does not need to set a timetable for making a decision.

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