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.