The Raiders are in the process of finalizing a deal Monday to bring back suspended outside linebacker Aldon Smith, according to an ESPN report.
Smith signed with the Raiders after being released by the 49ers last season and played in nine games with seven starts before running afoul of the league policy on substance abuse stemming from an arrest of DUI, hit and run and vandalism
In those nine games, Smith had 3.5 sacks following a slow start after missing all of training camp before signing.
Under terms of Smith’s suspension, the latest in a series involving the former first-round pick out of Missouri, he cannot apply for re-instatement until November and will miss at least nine games.
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.
Both Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Jack 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 the Twitter account of ESPN’s Adam Schefter, 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 him returning to the club in November.
Although Smith appeared to be rounding into an effective player with the Raiders, at no time with the Raiders did he flash the kind of pass rushing skill which resulted in 42 sacks in 43 games from 2011-13.
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.