San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended nine games by the NFL after a series of off-field legal issues.
A statement Friday from the league said Smith had violated the NFL’s substance abuse and personal conduct policies.
Smith won’t be eligible to return until Nov. 10, the day after the 49ers’ game against the New Orleans Saints.
‘‘Our organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it as a team,’’ 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. ‘‘Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally.
“We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead.’’
Smith, one of the NFL’s top pass rushers, missed five games last season to undergo treatment at an in-patient facility following his DUI arrest Sept. 20.
Just before training camp began last month, Smith, 24, was sentenced to serve three years of probation and to spend 11 days with a work crew after he pleaded no contest to drunken driving and weapons charges.
He has repeatedly said he has been sober since his DUI arrest last September. Smith played in a 27-7 home loss to the Colts Sept. 22, two days after he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession. After the game, he publicly apologized for his behavior and later announced he would leave for treatment.
While the Niners went on a five-game winning streak without him, Smith’s menacing presence was sorely missed. The team still picked up his 2015 contract option this spring.
In his latest run-in with the law, Smith was arrested April 13 at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said Smith was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became uncooperative with the process, telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb. No charges were filed.
In November, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home. Investigators said several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed. In the subsequent investigation, prosecutors say detectives found five unregistered, illegal weapons in Smith’s house.
Last season, Smith finished with 8½ sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games with eight starts. He was initially worked back in slowly, but demonstrated he had stayed in shape while away.
Selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft out of Missouri, Smith had a franchise-record 19½ sacks during the 2012 season for the 49ers, who lost to Baltimore in the Super Bowl after that season.
The Bengals released former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a move that was anticipated after Cincinnati drafted LSU’s Jeremy Hill in the second round.
Green-Ellis was Cincinnati’s leading rusher each of the last two seasons. His role was reduced last year when Giovani Bernard was added to the backfield. Green-Ellis ran for 756 yards and a career-low 3.4 yards per carry. He was entering the final year on his contract.
Bucs change kickers
The Buccaneers released Connor Barth, the most accurate kicker in franchise history. Rookie Patrick Murray replaces Barth, who missed all of 2013 after tearing the Achilles’ in his right foot during a charity basketball game . . . After struggling this preseason, veteran punter Brian Moorman was cut by the Bills. Also jettisoned by Buffalo was backup quarterback Jordan Palmer. That leaves Jeff Tuel as EJ Manuel’s only backup. The Bills signed long snapper Garrison Sanborn to a three-year contract extension . . . Mike Brewster entered training camp as the Jaguars’ starting center. But he was waived Friday after another poor preseason game. Former Patriots fullback Eric Kettani also was let go . . . Former UConn wideout Yawin Smallwood, a seventh-round pick of the Falcons, was cut. Linebacker Pat Angerer was among Atlanta’s other cuts . . . Jordan Lynch, a Heisman finalist last season, was waived by the Bears, who were trying to convert the former Northern Illinois quarterback into a running back.
Simpson to sit 3 games
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was suspended for three games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, his second such punishment in three seasons. Simpson won’t draw a paycheck until Week 4. He also won’t count against Minnesota’s 53-man roster until then. Simpson was arrested last November on suspicion of drunken driving, and in January he pleaded guilty to careless driving and refusing to submit to a chemical test while avoiding the DUI charge. He previously was suspended for the first three games of the 2012 season following a felony drug conviction. That stemmed from a marijuana shipment that authorities found at his home in Kentucky while he played for Cincinnati in 2011 . . . Free agent outside linebacker James Harrison met with the Cardinals on Friday but won’t sign with the team because the two sides couldn’t agree on a contract. Harrison’s agent, William Parise, said the 36-year-old former AP Defensive Player of the Year had a physical and met with coach Bruce Arians but the prospective deal broke down over money . . . Cowboys rookie safety Ahmad Dixon was fined $22,050 for a high hit on Dolphons receiver Matt Hazel in a preseason game last week. Dallas linebacker Anthony Hitchens was fined $8,268 for a facemask penalty in the same game . . . A change of plea hearing has been set for Tuesday for Colts owner Jim Irsay, who faces drug-related charges following a March traffic stop. Hamilton County (Ind.) Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andre Miksha said Friday that a not guilty plea had previously been entered on behalf of Irsay, 55. Miksha said in an e-mail he cannot ‘‘provide any details of — or even verify the existence of — an agreement unless and until one’’ is filed Tuesday with Hamilton Superior Court or at a later date.