Justin Smith: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on DE's Potential Return

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2016

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith (94) smiles during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Less than a year after retiring from the NFL, former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith has reportedly tinkered with the idea of returning to the professional gridiron. 

Continue for updates. 

Smith Not Interested in Playing for 49ers Again

Friday, Feb. 26

According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, "A league source shared with PFT at the scouting combine the intriguing rumor of talk that Smith would like to play again, but that he doesn’t want to play for the 49ers."

John Middlekauff of 95.7 The Game noted the Chip Kelly era hasn't started on a particularly high note: 

In 14 NFL seasons that he split between the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, Smith tallied 880 total tackles, 87 sacks and 16 forced fumbles. After the 2014 campaign, Smith called it quits, citing the toll the game had taken on his body.

"When you get on the bald tires, you're on the bald tires. ... It was just time for me to move on," Smith told reporters in May, per NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal

A five-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro, Smith proved to be a menacing force along the Niners defensive line after arriving in the Bay Area in 2008.

However, it's hard to imagine he has much left to give at this point.

Smith mustered just 43 total tackles and five sacks over the course of 16 starts during the 2014 season, and he's set to turn 37 years old in September.

There's also the matter of his contract with the 49ers, which had one year remaining at the time of his retirement, per Spotrac.

If Smith eventually decides to give it another shot, Florio noted the 49ers would "be entitled to his services for the balance of a contract that was tolled when he walked away."

And since Smith reportedly has no interest in suiting up for the Niners again, that could prove to be a deal-breaker.