Raiders

McKenzie: Aldon Smith in Raiders' long-term plans

Raiders

Editor's Note: The above video is from a media session with Aldon Smith on Oct. 7, 2015.

ALAMEDA – The Raiders signed edge rusher Aldon Smith in early September to make an immediate impact. The former 49er was inserted right into the lineup and has become a permanent fixture on this defense.

The Raiders would also like him to be part of their future. General manager Reggie McKenzie said Smith was in the teams long-term plans on Tuesday afternoon in a roundtable discussion with local media.

Smith signed an incentive-laden one-year contract just before the regular-season began, roughly a month after being released by the 49ers following his latest run-in with the law.

The Aug. 6 incident was his fifth since being drafted in 2011. He pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of DUI with a prior conviction, hit and run and vandalism. He has a pre-trial conference set for Nov. 4. The NFL generally waits for these matters to be adjudicated, though the league is reviewing the arrest.

Smith was suspended nine games in 2014 for a previous DUI conviction, and the NFL could suspended him again under the league’s personal conduct policy or possibly under the substance abuse policy. It’s also possible that no action will be taken this year or next.

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Smith’s track record suggests a long-term commitment could entail some risk. The Raiders, who haven’t taken character risks under McKenzie, entered into this year’s Smith pact with eyes wide open.

 

“We did a lot of research on that,” McKenzie said. “At the end of the day, when we decided we were going to go after him, we wanted to let him join the family and help him in any kind of way we can. That’s what we’re doing.”

Smith likes playing for the Raiders, and has become a valued part of a locker room that welcomed him with open arms. Whether he wants to remain a Raider beyond this season remains uncertain.

Smith has grown into his role in the Raiders scheme, generally as a stand-up rusher off the edge. He has 18 tackles, one-and-a-half sacks and three passes defensed through six games. Those numbers are fine, though the sack total doesn’t fit a player with 44 in his first 50 NFL games.

McKenzie is happy with Smith’s production and how he has fit in thus far.

“There’s a growth process on a new team, especially when you don’t go to training camp,” McKenzie said. “He had to get his legs under him, and he’s definitely become a good player for us now. It may not add up in terms of sacks, but there are similarities with Khalil (Mack) from last year. Khalil was incredibly disruptive on tape. Aldon’s splash plays, his explosive plays, are going to come. We’re good with Aldon.”