NFL won't reinstate Aldon Smith this season

NFL won't reinstate Aldon Smith this season

ALAMEDA – Aldon Smith won’t be returning this season. That seemed to be the case as the regular season wound down without a ruling on his application for reinstatement.

The NFL won’t revisit the application to end his indefinite banishment as a repeat violator of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, league spokesman Brian McCarthy told on Friday morning.

Pro Football Talk first reported the news.

The league will revisit Smith’s application in March 2017, but that doesn’t mean he will be reinstated at that time.

Smith still has some lingering legal issued to deal with. He was charged with misdemeanor counts of DUI, hit and run, and vandalism stemming from an Aug. 2015 incident that ultimately got him released by the 49ers.

He was signed by the Raiders shortly after, and played nine games in Silver and Black before getting suspended in November of 2015.

Smith spent 120 days in rehab starting in July, shortly after a video shared on social media raised questions about whether he yet again violated the league's substance abuse policy. Smith initially denied it was him in the video on Twitter, but has since deleted the tweet. 

Smith applied for reinstatement on Oct. 3 and met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell later in the year. Goodell was under no deadline to make a ruling, despite some calls that he had to do so within 60 days.

Goodell has not ruled on Smith’s application and has tabled it until next spring.

Smith signed a two-year contract this past offseason, and he’ll have one year remaining on that deal if he’s reinstated in 2017.

Smith assumed that he would be reinstated earlier this year, and told the Associated Press he would be back soon. Smith was frustrated by Goodell’s indecision. He wanted to play again this season and help with the Raiders playoff push.

That won’t happen now, though the Raiders defense has performed well with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin rushing off the edge. Smith would’ve been a valuable asset as a pass rusher, but they won’t have his services until next year at the earliest.

Smith has had several run-ins with the law since the 49ers drafted him No. 7 overall in the 2011 NFL draft.

Here again are the NFL's collectively bargained guidelines for reinstatement, from the NFL substance abuse policy:


Procedures for Reinstatement Following Stage Three Banishment

Any Player who has been banished under Stage Three may apply formally in writing for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before the one-year anniversary date of the letter so banishing him.

The application should include all pertinent information about the Player’s:

(a) Treatment;

(b) Abstinence from Substances of Abuse throughout the entire period of his banishment;

(c) Involvement with any Substances of Abuse related incidents; and

(d) Arrests and/or convictions for any criminal activity, including Substances of Abuse-related offenses.

 Set forth below are the procedures to be used when an application is received by the Commissioner.

1. Within 45 days of receipt of the application, the Player will be interviewed by the Medical Director and the Medical Advisor, after which a recommendation will be made to the Commissioner with regard to the Player’s request for reinstatement.

2. The Player will execute appropriate medical release forms that will enable the Commissioner’s staff and NFLPA Executive Director’s staff to review the Player’s substance abuse history, including but not limited to attendance at counseling sessions (individual, group and family); attendance at 12-step and other self-help group meetings; periodic progress reports; and all diagnostic findings and treatment recommendations.

3. The Player will submit to urine testing by an NFL representative at a frequency determined by the Medical Advisor.

4. The Player will agree in a meeting with the Commissioner or his representative(s) to comply with the conditions imposed by the Commissioner for his reinstatement to the status of an active Player.

5. All individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the Commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application.


Gruden, McKenzie set to sell Suh on the Silver and Black


Gruden, McKenzie set to sell Suh on the Silver and Black

Ndamukong Suh’s coming to Alameda. Jon Gruden, Paul Guenther and Reggie McKenzie will have a chance to make a pitch, explaining exactly why the superstar defensive tackle belongs in the Silver and Black.

McKenzie (and owner Mark Davis) would’ve relished this opportunity last time Suh was a free agent. The Raiders had plenty of cap space in 2015 but oh, so many needs coming off a 3-13 campaign, and weren’t prepared for his market value to go nuclear. McKenzie steered clear of the mushroom cloud, and Suh’s deal set a new market for defensive players.

He made $60 million over three years in Miami, but didn’t see his contract’s second half after lackluster team results and hints of inconsistent effort. The Dolphins are reportedly angling for a culture change, and didn’t think Suh would help the transition.

That put him back on the open market, with more guaranteed dollars dancing in his head. Suh’s on a free-agent tour rare in the modern NFL, where dollars are committed quick once free agency opens. Suh’s slow playing this one, thus far hopping from New Orleans to Tennessee to L.A. to see the Rams on a private jet. His charter will land in Oakland Wednesday to see what the Raiders have to offer.

There’s little doubt what Suh can bring. He might be the best interior defensive lineman east of L.A.’s Aaron Donald -- yes, there are a few other top talents -- and would be a perfect fit for Guenther’s scheme. That system needs a Geno Atkins type. He made the Guenther’s Bengals go in recent seasons, and Suh’s certainly as good or better when going strong.

The real question’s what the Raiders can offer that others can’t. The Titans and Rams have more salary-cap space, as it stands right now. The Raiders are the only non-playoff team in his bunch, with the other three seemingly on the rise.

The Raiders could champion playing with Khalil Mack. The Rams have Donald, the Titans have Jurell Casey and the Saints have Cam Jordan. Suh has made reference to the final three in interviews with Yahoo! Sports.

Gruden, however, is certainly a selling point. Several signed free agents cited the A-list head coach as an attraction to joining the Raiders. A healthy, impactful Derek Carr and Suh’s addition to the defense could make the Raiders a real contender right away, something that will obviously get brought up in Wednesday’s visit.

Suh’s an Oregon kid, and the Raiders are the closest team to home. That might help.

He could make a pros and cons list about market, state tax issues, chances of winning, coach and locker room culture, but the almighty dollar can’t be ignored.

Can the Raiders put together an attractive financial package, one that would make them truly appealing? That’s the (multi-)million dollar question?

The Raiders don’t have tons of salary-cap space. In fact they're up against the threshold, though cutting veterans without guaranteed money easily creates space. The Raiders could keep Suh’s 2018 cap number lower through a signing bonus and fat roster bonuses in future years.

Make no mistake: the cap is not an impenetrable road block. The Raiders might have to get away from contract structuring practices that McKenzie’s people used to reach excellent salary-cap standing. That’s especially true considering the monster deal given to Carr last year and the mega-extension Mack will get soon.

We say all that with one caveat. Suh’s exact team-selection criteria aren’t clear. There’s no telling if this Alameda trip could help create a robust market, or if he’s taking the Raiders seriously. Making the trip means something, however, and will at least give Gruden and Co. a chance to woo Suh, lock him down and radically change expectations for the 2018 season.

Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere


Raiders remain on a receiver hunt as their top target signs elsewhere

The Raiders missed out on signing Ryan Grant. The former Washington receiver visited the team’s Alameda training complex, but left without a contract and ultimately chose to sign a one-year, $5 million deal with Indianapolis.

They lost that one, but are undeterred in their quest to upgrade the receiver corps.

They already signed Jordy Nelson and let Michael Crabtree walk, hoping for steady production and quality locker room leadership in the exchange.

Cordarrelle Patterson was traded to New England on Sunday, creating a spot in the position group.

The Raiders tried to fill it with Grant. No go, no matter.

They hosted veteran Eric Decker on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. They also declared interest in Allen Hurns, a player the Jaguars released Tuesday morning.

Hurns listed the Raiders among interested teams – he said there were 10 in total – in an interview with KFNZ radio in Charlotte, N.C.

Hurns has a 1,000-yard season to his credit – his biggest year came with now-Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson as Jacksonville's O.C. -- and two relative down years since. Injuries have also played a part in that.

Decker had a stellar four-year run with Denver and the New York Jets, but was less effective during two seasons in Tennessee. The 31-year old has experience in the slot, and could be a productive No. 3 option in Jon Gruden’s offense.

Gruden doesn't mind working with veteran receivers, something clear from his past and willingness to add Nelson as a major contributor. 

Even if the Raiders don't land a veteran receiver, they could also look for a receiver in the NFL draft.

Amari Cooper will remain the No. 1 option. Seth Roberts has $4.45 million guaranteed in 2018. Johnny Holton, Isaac Whitney and Keon Hatcher are also on the roster.