Officially back in the NFL for the first time in nearly five years, Aldon Smith is "really looking forward to the future" with the Cowboys.
Dallas signed Smith to a one-year deal last month, and Wednesday the NFL conditionally reinstated him after his past violations of the league's substance abuse and personal conduct policies led to an indefinite suspension back in November 2015. He'll now be able to take part in the team's virtual voluntary offseason program.
"I am extremely thankful for the Cowboys, (head coach) Mike (McCarthy), Jerry (and) Stephen (Jones), just everybody who's been involved and instrumental in the process just to where I am now," he said in an interview with TMZ.
The Cowboys have signed Smith to help replace defensive end Robert Quinn, who posted a team-best 11.5 sacks last year before joining the Bears via free agency in March.
A former seventh overall draft pick by the 49ers, Smith has 47.5 sacks in 59 career games, including 19.5 in 2012 – tied for the fifth-highest single-season total in NFL history – which helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl that year.
After so much time away, Smith has been open about the effort he's made to turn his life around with the goal of inspiring others. And at 30 years old, he believes he still has good football ahead of him.
"I still feel young. I don't have the mileage on my body. I still feel great," he told TMZ. "If anything, I'm looking forward to what I'm going to be able to do out there.
"I'm an overall better person. I was able to play at a high level with other things going on in my life. And with how life is for me now, I'm just looking forward to seeing what I can do."