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Aldon Smith 'thankful' for opportunity with Cowboys

Aldon Smith will get his shot at redemption after being out of the NFL since 2015.

"Life is good. I'm thankful. I'm blessed. I'm a Cowboy," Smith wrote on Instagram after signing with Dallas.

The pass rusher inked a one-year contract with a base salary of $2 million and an additional $2 million in incentives, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Wednesday. Smith earning more than league-minimum after missing the past four seasons is eyebrow-raising.

Now 30 years old, Smith was dominant in his first two seasons, gobbling up 33.5 sacks and earning All-Pro honors with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, his second year in the league.

Then the off-field issues began to undercut the talent. A 2013 arrest for suspicion of DUI -- his second -- and possession of marijuana led to Smith checking into a rehab facility. In 2014, he was suspended for nine games for violating the NFL's substance abuse and personal conduct policies. In 2015, following yet another arrest and charges for DUI and vandalism, Smith was released by the 49ers in August.

The edge rusher signed with the Raiders a month later, but in November was suspended by the NFL for one year. Smith wasn't reinstated the following years, missing all of 2016 and 2017. In 2018, the Raiders ultimately released him from his tolling contract after he was named as a suspect in a domestic violence incident.

Now, after reportedly turning his life around, Smith is ready to return.

"There is beauty in the struggle," Smith wrote after signing with the Cowboys.

"Life will always present us w/ tests. I've learned how to take a different perspective on the adversities of life. Instead of looking at life as a victim, I have embraced the journey as God has planned it, making exponential strides towards becoming a better man.

"Take this time that we have away from our normal day to day activities and think about changing your perspectives. Focus not on how bad this situation is but instead on how we can all come out of this better people. Let's work on the things we have been putting off and grow towards our ultimate potential."

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Smith's contract with Dallas begins when he's officially reinstated, which the Cowboys are confident will happen.

Dallas taking a home-run swing on a player with Smith's background isn't stunning. Jerry Jones' willingness to give second and third chances is well-chronicled. If it works, Smith could be one of his biggest reclamation projects.

No one questioned Smith's talent. When on the field, the edge rusher was a menace with a jet-fueled first step and length to cause havoc. It was the issues off the field that undid his career.

After four years out of the NFL, it's fair to wonder how impactful Smith can be on the field. If he's a fraction of the player he was to start his career, you can bet the Cowboys will be pleased with taking a chance on their latest salvage attempt.

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