Raiders

GM McKenzie: Aldon Smith remains in Raiders' plans

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GM McKenzie: Aldon Smith remains in Raiders' plans

Editor's note: Matt Maiocco is in Florida for the NFL owners meetings. Watch SportsNet Central tonight at 8 & 10:30pm for comprehensive coverage.

BOCA RATON, Fla. – Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, currently unsigned as an unrestricted free agent, remains solidly in the Raiders’ plan after his scheduled completion of a one-year suspension.

General manager Reggie McKenzie said he is in no rush to re-sign Smith, 26, as the Raiders want to be certain the talented pass-rusher is making the correct decisions off the field.

“The conversations have been good,” McKenzie told CSNBayArea.com on Monday at the NFL owners meetings. “Really, it’s encouraging him as a person to continue to get his life right. And if you’re going to commit to this thing, you have to go through some steps. And that’s what he’s going through right now.”

Smith is eligible to be reinstated off the NFL’s reserve/suspended list in mid-November after he was suspended for a full year due to violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse. Teams are allowed to sign him even while he is under league suspension.

While a member of the 49ers, Smith was suspended for nine games for violations of the league’s policies on substances of abuse and personal conduct to open the 2014 season.

The 49ers released Smith on Aug. 7 after his fifth run-in with the law since the 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft. The Raiders signed him to a one-year contract on Sept. 11.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office filed charges against Smith of DUI with a prior conviction and refusal to submit to a chemical test; hit and run with property damage; and vandalism under $400.

Smith recorded 44 sacks in 50 games with the 49ers. He recorded 3.5 sacks in nine games with the Raiders before his season ended due to the suspension.

Five potential Reggie McKenzie replacements with Jon Gruden ties

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AP

Five potential Reggie McKenzie replacements with Jon Gruden ties

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have a vacancy in their personnel department. General manager Reggie McKenzie was let go Monday, though his replacement won’t share the same title.

The Raiders issued a statement saying they’d search for a “new front office executive” starting immediately, a search that coach Jon Gruden says owner Mark Davis will conduct.

Gruden said he wasn’t sure if he’d be involved in the interview process, but he’s expected to have influence in this important hire.

Gruden wants someone McKenzie-esque to fill that role.

“(We’re looking for) similar qualities,” Gruden said. “We’d like a guy who works hard and loves football and this organization, who will scratch and claw and fight with the rest of us. It all starts there, in addition to the expertise in personnel. Great leadership skills, a great number of things go into this job. It’s a tough position in this league.”

Gruden said Davis will compile a list, and the two will discuss those options later this week.

[RELATED: Why Gruden-McKenzie pairing was doomed to fail]

It’s too early in the process to have a solid grasp on the leading candidates, but a few names from Gruden’s past (and present) could be options for the Raiders. A few new ones could emerge in time, but let’s look at a few Gruden connections who might fit well here with the Silver and Black.

Mark Dominik

NFL Network mentioned Dominik’s name as a possible front office addition. He was Tampa Bay’s director of pro personnel when Gruden was coaching the Buccaneers, and Dominik became GM after Gruden was fired following the 2008 season.

Dominik has the personnel chops to lead a scouting department, though he has been out of the NFL in recent years doing media work.

Bruce Allen

Allen and Gruden worked together in Oakland and Tampa Bay, and a third partnership could help get the Raiders organized and execute Gruden’s vision for the team.

Allen is adept at working with the salary cap, and he potentially could figure out how to get Gruden’s guys in the building. One major question: Will he have enough personnel clout to fight back against Gruden while making important decisions? That’s a quality that would help the organization make the right calls.

It seems uncertain -- maybe unlikely -- that their pairing would come together for a third time.

Louis Riddick

The highly respected ESPN analyst has been a top candidate for front-office jobs before, and he has an extensive résumé in personnel and scouting. Riddick and Gruden were simultaneously employed by the national sports network, and Riddick played for Gruden with the Raiders in 1998.

Riddick is a younger influence who could grow within the job and work his way to a GM post with full control at some point down the line.

Michael Lombardi

Lombardi has become a popular football analyst in recent seasons, but he worked with Gruden and Al Davis as a personnel executive starting in 1998. He also worked with Bill Belichick in New England, while the Patriots were winning Super Bowls.

He has plenty of experience and has worked with Gruden. Will that make a match back in Alameda?

Shaun Herock

Gruden had some nice things to say about the Raiders' director of college scouting. He’ll act as interim GM during this executive search and play an integral role in guiding the Raiders through the 2019 draft.

Jon Gruden hints Raiders owner Mark Davis decided to fire Reggie McKenzie

Jon Gruden hints Raiders owner Mark Davis decided to fire Reggie McKenzie

ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Jon Gruden beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, decompressed some with his team and headed home following a job well done.

Owner Mark Davis had a different itinerary.

He met with Reggie McKenzie and told the general manager his time was up. He could finish the season or walk away right now. McKenzie chose the latter.

Gruden said Monday he didn't know what would transpire in that meeting.

“We won a game last night, and I went home,” Gruden said in his weekly press conference. “Obviously, there was a meeting last night, and obviously, changes have been made. I respect everything that this organization is about. I can’t exactly answer why this change was made last night, but changes were made. We have to continue to fight, and build this team back. That’s what we’re going to do.”

When asked directly whether firing McKenzie was a Davis decision, Gruden inferred that it was.

“We all work for the same man,” Gruden said.

Gruden said he wasn’t sure if he'd be involved in the interview process, though sources have said the head coach/Raiders football czar will have a say in the hiring. It's believed the hire will be someone Gruden knows well and trusts.

[RELATED: Hard to believe Gruden knew nothing of GM's firing]

While he said he didn’t know exactly what was going down with McKenzie, Gruden wasn’t surprised by the move.

The Raiders will hire a new personnel executive, though that person won’t necessarily be given the GM title. Gruden was set to meet with scouts Monday afternoon, and he said he’ll continue to show confidence in those on staff as the Raiders head into the offseason and ever closer to a pivotal NFL draft armed with three first-round draft picks.

Director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales remains employed at this time. Gruden said director of college scouting Shaun Herock will play a pivotal role over the next few months.

“He’s a talented personnel man with a lot of Raiders history,” Gruden said. “He’s our college scouting director, and we have a lot of good scouts. We have a lot of picks in this draft, so his leadership will be important. I expect him to be a big part of the organization moving forward.”