Seattle Seahawks fortify pass rush by signing DE Aldon Smith

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith (58) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the first half of a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, December 13, 2020 (AP Photo/Aaron Doster).

SEATTLE, Wash. — Just as easily as the NFL gets excited about young players, it forgets about many of them. Even after the immense physical and mental toll it takes to reach the pros, many young players are unable to overcome the hurdles necessary to stay in the NFL. Generally, the Seattle Seahawks organization does a great job of capitalizing on these scenarios and finding talent in unexpected places.

Today, that gain comes in the form of 6-foot-4, 280-lb defensive end Aldon Smith. A 31-year-old entering his seventh NFL season, Smith was the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Smith’s pro career was derailed when he was suspended for substance abuse issues that cost him four seasons in the league.

Last season, Smith returned to the NFL as a sober man with a fresh perspective, contributing a successful individual campaign to a less-than-successful Dallas Cowboys club. He played in all 16 games for the Cowboys last season, contributing five sacks, 48 tackles and a team-best 14 quarterback hits on the year.

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Ever since he was a rookie, Smith has been an instant impact player. In his first two seasons, he totaled a remarkable 33.5 sacks and 56 quarterback hits. In the next step of his career, Smith will contribute to a dynamic pass-rushing core that led Seattle to an NFL-leading 34 sacks in the final nine weeks of last season.

Recently, the Seahawks re-signed edge rusher Carlos Dunlap to put some heat on opposing quarterbacks. The team also went out and signed edge rusher Kerry Hyder Jr. away from its NFC West rival in San Francisco; Hyder led his team in sacks (8.5).

Don’t look now, but Seattle’s pass rush may become one of the best in the NFL next season. Each of its contributors offers a unique playing style that should leave offensive lineman shaking in their boots.

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Seattle now rosters seven defensive ends including established vets, solid rotation pieces and young players trying to find their way. Defensive end is now arguably the deepest position that the Seahawks have to offer, enabling head coach Pete Carroll to deploy an even rotation that keeps the best defenders on the team fresh for the postseason. In a sport that’s so heavily impacted by injuries, keeping a rotation of talent at such a crucial position is setting the Seahawks up for a great deal of success.

It’s no Legion of Boom, but the Seattle Seahawks are finally constructing a dynamic foundation for their defense. Depth is hard to come by, and the secondary still needs reinforcements, but it’s hard to win at the highest level without hard-nosed defenders putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. That will pay dividends in the only season that truly matters to the Seahawks’ leaders: The postseason.


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