Report: Aldon Smith will be reinstated in March

Report: Aldon Smith will be reinstated in March

Aldon Smith has been banished from the NFL for some time now. It seems his indefinite suspension has an end date.

The Raiders edge rusher will be reinstated in March if he remains compliant with the substance abuse policy, the NFL Netwotk reported on Sunday morning.

Smith was banished under as a repeat offender of the NFL’s substance abuse on Nov. 15, 2015, and hasn’t been with his team since. He missed the entire 2016 season, though the team hoped he would return to help their playoff push.

That didn’t occur. Smith applied for reinstatement in October and was eligible for it on Nov. 17, but the NFL didn’t rule on it and ultimately tabled one until March 2017.

Head coach Jack Del Rio wasn’t happy with that decision.

“I’m a little disappointed, honestly,” Del Rio said. “I feel like, from everything I’ve gathered – it’s obviously not my job to make a ruling – he has done his duty to take care of everything he needs to take care of. I see some of the guys that have been allowed back, and my question is, ‘What’s the difference?’

Smith expressed frustration through an acquaintance after the NFL didn’t rule quickly. He met NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials in early December, but that didn’t prompt league action.

His banishment stems from an Aug. 2015 incident that led to misdemeanor charges of DUI, hit and run and vandalism and ultimately prompted the 49ers to release him. Those charges are outstanding. He signed with the Raiders just before the 2015 regular season, and had 3.5 sacks in nine games played.

He’s been banished ever since, a decision that prohibits Smith from having contact with Raiders officials outside the player engagement director. He re-signed with the Raiders last offseason, and will have a year left on his contract.

He voluntarily entered a rehab program last summer, shortly after an internet video appeared to associate him with a hand-rolled cigarette. He remained there for 120 days. Smith stayed in great physical shape in hopes of a 2016 return that never materialized.

If Smith is reinstated in March, he will be able to participate in the Raiders offseason program, which starts in mid-April.

Smith will be part of a pass rush that features Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and Mario Edwards Jr.

Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys


Report: Raiders trade FB Jamize Olawale to Cowboys

The Raiders lured fullback Keith Smith away from Dallas in free agency. The Cowboys suddenly had a need at the position, and called a Raiders team with a surplus.

They wanted Jamize Olawale, a tough, faster-than-you-think blocking back with receiving skill.

A draft pick swap got it done.

The Raiders traded Olawale and the No. 192 overall pick to Dallas for the No. 173 overall selection. NFL Network first reported the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed trade details.

The Raiders didn’t have a fifth-round pick this year, but now have two after trading Olawale and WR Cordarrelle Patterson in combination with a glut of sixth-round selections. They still have four remaining.

Smith is more of a true blocking fullback Gruden sought. Olawale doesn’t fit that old school mold, but is a versatile player who can produce if used correctly. He has dealt with injuries in the recent past, which also may have been a knock against him.

This thins the running back room a bit, but more ball carriers will be jettisoned before the season starts.

The trade also saved $1.6 million in salary cap space, important for a team where every little bit counts this offseason.

Olawale returns to the team that originally signed him as an 2012 undrafted free agent. He was cut at preseason’s end, and picked up by Oakland. He enjoyed a productive tenure in silver and black, though he wasn’t used much by 2016 offensive coordinator Todd Downing.

The Raiders aren’t necessarily done in free agency. They have a little cap space left, and could look for another receiver or defensive lineman. Middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman remains on the open market, and the Raiders hope to have him back.

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.