ALAMEDA _ The Raiders and Aldon Smith made good Monday on their promise to reunite at the time of the linebacker’s one-year suspension last November.
The Raiders announced Smith, who can’t play until November at the earliest in 2016 while he remains under suspension for violation of the NFL policy on substance abuse, has signed a contract.
A press release announcing the deal did not include statements from Smith, general manager Reggie McKenzie or coach Jack Del Rio. Smith is not expected to be made available for comment.
Terms were not disclosed, but it was reported by ESPN as a two-year deal.
Note: FoxSports reports it’s a two-year deal worth $11 million that can go as high as $19.5 million with incentives.
The move doesn’t come as a surprise, given that McKenzie and Del Rio have been consistent in their public stance on bringing Smith back. Smith, following an arrest for DUI, reckless driving and vandalism last August, was released by the 49ers and signed with the Raiders in September.
In nine games with seven starts, Smith had 3.5 sacks following a slow start after missing all of training camp.
Under terms of Smith’s suspension, the latest in a series of run-ins with the law involving the former first-round pick out of Missouri, he cannot apply for re-instatement until 60 days before the year is up and then his case will be reviewed by the NFL.
Smith must comply with all terms of the NFL policy until that time and could be denied re-instatement or at worse banned for an even longer period of time. At the time of his suspension, Smith said through a statement he wanted to return to the Raiders.
McKenzie and coach Del Rio echoed Smith’s wishes to remain with the organization. At the NFL owners meetings, both said they wanted Smith to work on getting his own act together before entering into a contract agreement.
According to ESPN, Smith was spotted at the team facility Monday. Under NFL rules, players under suspension can only be at the facility to speak with members of the team’s player engagement program for updates on their progress.
That makes Raiders director Lamonte Winston, their player engagement director, a key figure in assessing Smith’s state of mind and the viability of bringing him back.
Although Smith appeared to be rounding into shape as an effective player with the Raiders, at no time did he flash the kind of pass rushing skill which resulted in 42 sacks in 43 games with the 49ers from 2011 through 2013.
Ideally, Smith would emerge as an additional pass rushing threat past the midway point of the season to supplement defensive end Khalil Mack and newly-signed outside linebacker Bruce Irvin.
— The Raiders, according to an ESPN report, are looking at the possibility of replacing retired free safety Charles Woodson with Cincinnati Bengals unrestricted free agent Reggie Nelson.
Nelson, entering his 10th season, tied with the Chiefs Marcus Peters for the NFL lead with eight interceptions for 115 yards in returns last season for the Bengals. However, he turns 33 before the 2016 season and has found the market soft for his services.
With 12 interceptions and 27 passes defensed, Nelson is coming off the two best seasons of his career statistically.
Although Nelson has played the last six seasons with the Bengals, he started his career as a first-round draft choice out of Florida with Del Rio as his head coach.
Nelson had five interceptions as a rookie with Jacksonville, but clashed with Del Rio and the coaching staff and was shipped to Cincinnati after three seasons for cornerback David Jones and a conditional pick that turned out to be a seventh-round selection.
After one game, Del Rio publicly criticized Nelson for allowing a 65-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne and benched him for the final two games of the 2009 season before being traded away.
Nate Allen is currently the most experienced safety on the roster, and third-year player TJ Carrie has played cornerback and safety.
— Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. awaits another medical test regarding a neck injury that sidelined him late last season. Edwards expressed confidence of being available for the offseason and training camp but must be cleared by a doctor.
The Raiders’ offseason program begins April 18.