Sean Smith

Raiders notes: Donald Penn's potential IR return could cause dilemmas


Raiders notes: Donald Penn's potential IR return could cause dilemmas

ALAMEDA – Raiders offensive tackle Donald Penn has been on injured reserve since Oct. 3. It will be eight weeks on Wednesday, meaning he’s ever-so -lose to becoming eligible to return.

Just because he can at that point doesn’t mean he will, however. Penn isn’t ready just yet, but coach Jon Gruden has a level of confidence he can return to the active roster at some point this year.

“He has been downstairs rehabbing and we are hoping he can come back and help us,” Gruden said. “I don’t know how close he is officially, but he is making progress. Hope to have him on the field before the season is over.”

There are some pros and cons if the Raiders bring him back. Penn could definitely help at right tackle, with third-round rookie Brandon Parker in the midst of a trial by fire at the position. Parker has been good at times, overmatched at others. A veteran’s stability and Penn’s willingness to teach could an asset down the stretch.

But if Penn suffers a serious injury upon return, he would have to rehab well into the 2019 season, and the Raiders would be on the hook for his entire salary. Right now, only $1.750 million is guaranteed.

Activating Penn would also impact running back Marshawn Lynch. The Silver and Black have already given defensive tackle Justin Ellis one of two designations to return off IR.

If the second goes to Penn, Lynch will be shut down for sure. He went on injured reserve after a Week 6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in London, and would only be eligible for the Christmas Eve home finale against the Denver Broncos at the earliest.

Lynch is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and it’s uncertain what he plans to do in the future. His rehab timetable is also uncertain, or whether a return is even realistic at this stage.

Raiders to sign Ravens TE

The Silver and Black will sign tight end Darren Waller off the Ravens practice squad, Gruden announced on Monday.

They waived receiver Johnny Holton to create Waller’s roster spot. Defensive back Arrion Springs was waived off the practice squad to make room for Holton to return there.

“He’s a big guy that can really run,” Gruden said of Waller. “He was a wideout at Georgia Tech, he’s transitioning into a hybrid role and we will take a look at him.”

He will be more of a tight end with the Raiders, and can learn from veteran Jared Cook down the stretch. He grew up less thatn 50 miles from where Cook was raised in Georgia.

Waller has been suspended twice for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, the last of which was a one-year ban that ended in Aug. 2018.

Justin Ellis cranking up

Ellis started practicing with his teammates last week, and Gruden said he could re-join the 53-man roster off injured reserve this week prior to Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

“Ellis will be up this week, hope to have him available against the Chiefs,” Gruden said. “That will help us on the inside running game I do believe.”

Sean Smith suspended

The NFL suspended former Raiders cornerback Sean Smith for the rest of the season, ESPN reported on Monday. A defensive back spent 2016 and 2017 with the Raiders before being released this offseason.

He was given a jail sentence for felony assault, though a one-year term was cut short when Smith was released in August. He has been a free agent since his return, though he was never formally disciplined for the incident prior to Monday’s suspension by the league.

Former Raiders cornerback Sean Smith released early from jail


Former Raiders cornerback Sean Smith released early from jail

Former Raiders cornerback Sean Smith was released from jail on Tuesday after serving five months of a one-year sentence. 

TMZ Sports reported on Aug. 6 that Smith was set to be released early for good behavior and overcrowding. Smith's release date was set for Sept. 5, but that was moved up by nearly a month. 

Smith pled guilty to assault in March and was then released by the Raiders. 

The Raiders signed Smith to a four-year, $40 million deal in March of 2016. That contract only lasted two disappointing seasons. 

In Smith's two seasons with the Raiders, he totaled four interceptions and 15 pass defenses. 

Source: Raiders releasing Sean Smith


Source: Raiders releasing Sean Smith

The Raiders are parting ways with veteran cornerback Sean Smith, a league source said on Monday morning.

The action saves $8.5 million in salary cap space, and occurred just before teams can start negotiating with representatives of pending free agents. Free agency formally opens Wednesday afternoon.

The Raiders had $15.8 million in salary cap space before the move – though Justin Ellis’ new contract will eat into that – according to the NFLPA. The cut creates some wiggle room entering free agency.

Releasing other veterans without guaranteed money can make more room. So can restructuring deals of players they’d prefer to keep.

Smith’s release is no shock. The veteran cornerback made a ton, but the Raiders couldn’t keep him even if they wanted to, due to a legal matter that will reportedly send him to prison.

Smith will plead guilty to felony assault with great bodily injury on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times, relating to a July 4 incident in Pasadena where he beat up his sister’s boyfriend. He will be sentenced to one year in jail and three years probation as part of his plea deal. He was facing felony assault and batter charges, with his trial about to start in earnest.

Smith played well after John Pagano took over as play caller, and was easily the Raiders best cornerback. He’s effective in the right system, and will be roughly 32 years old when eligible to re-enter the NFL market.

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks on the roster. Smith and David Amerson were cut, and TJ Carrie’s a few days from free agency. The Silver and Black are expected to sign one, possibly two veteran cornerbacks in free agency, and could re-sign Carrie to a new contract.

The position group has seen great turnover during the Reggie McKenzie era, and the team’s looking for stability surrounding 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley.