Aldon Smith

Raiders’ Aldon Smith Not Close To Return

It doesn’t sound like we’ll see Aldon Smith reinstated anytime soon. The linebacker has said that he’ll be back soon, but sources close to Smith say that he has made no consistent effort to follow the program laid out for him by the league, sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Those who know him best say that he’ll have one great week followed by a week of the same old problems. Aldon Smith (vertical)

Smith’s camp was pushing for reinstatement late last season, but commissioner Roger Goodell decided to table that discussion until March 2017. In between December and March, Smith found himself under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident and in a separate incident was arrested for crashing into a police cruiser while driving drunk. Those events put up major barriers between Smith and a potential return and it sounds like he’s only setting himself back further with his erratic behavior.

Prior to the draft, GM Reggie McKenzie indicated that the Raiders were not banking on having Smith return in 2017.

“Our thought process is on the draft and not considering Aldon at this point,” McKenzie said. “He’s still on the suspension list, so we’re not considering him at this point.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Carr, Raiders, Gillislee, Patriots

We learned earlier this week that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr wants to wrap up extension talks by the beginning of training camp. General manager Reggie McKenzie stated yesterday that he’d prefer to get a new contract wrapped up as soon as possible, and he expressed optimism that the two sides could come to an agreement.

“I feel good about it,” McKenzie said (via Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com). “When both sides want to get it done, that’s a great first step. I’m looking forward to getting it done by then.”

Carr had another productive season in 2016, completing 63.8-percent of his passes for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the AFC…

  • Aldon Smith is still under contract with the Raiders, although the linebacker hasn’t taken the field in more than a year after having violated the league’s substance abuse policy. The NFL hasn’t made any move to reinstate the embattled player, and McKenzie isn’t expecting a resolution anytime soon. “Our thought process is on the draft and not considering Aldon at this point,” McKenzie said (via Bair). “He’s still on the suspension list, so we’re not considering him at this point.”
  • Last offseason, when the Patriots signed restricted free agent wideout Chris Hogan, the Bills immediately made it clear that they wouldn’t be matching the contract. However, Buffalo has taken their time deciding what to do with running back Mike Gillislee, who signed an offer sheet with New England earlier this week. ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss wonders if the delay could be an indication that the Bills are strongly considering matching the offer.
  • Following the death of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, legal analyst (and ESPN.com writer) Lester Munson writes that the organization may be required to pay his family “a significant sum of money.” The NFLPA says there are “three outstanding grievances” between Hernandez and the Patriots stemming from the team’s refusal to pay the player’s $3.25MM bonus following his initial arrest. “How these are resolved will determine” whether Hernandez’s family will ultimately receive any money from the Patriots.

Aldon Smith Detained By Police

Aldon Smith is in more legal trouble. The Raiders pass-rusher was detained after crashing into a police cruiser, according to TMZ (Twitter link). Smith was reportedly drunk at the time of the incident.Aldon Smith (vertical)

This situation is merely the latest in a long line of episodes that have derailed Smith’s once promising career. A series of incidents led to Smith’s release in San Francisco despite excellent production, and while the Raiders have since given him another chance, this may be the end of the road for Smith. Thought to be nearing reinstatement by the NFL, Smith is reportedly also under investigation for an alleged domestic assault.

Smith posted 3.5 sacks for Oakland in nine games during the 2015 season before being hit with a one-year suspension (he also served a nine-game ban in 2013 for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies). Despite that, Oakland handed Smith a two-year, $11.5MM deal last spring, and GM Reggie McKenzie has repeatedly expressed support for the troubled young talent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Smith, Tyrod, Cutler, Steelers

Already under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place last Saturday, Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith is now on the NFL’s radar, writes Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “We are looking in to the matter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told McDonald in an email Tuesday. Smith has been serving a substance abuse suspension since November 2015 and has a chance to gain reinstatement in March, but the league could push back its decision or even hand him an indefinite ban as a result of his latest off-field issue, per McDonald.

Elsewhere in the AFC…

  • If the Bills move on from quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they should sign soon-to-be released Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler to replace him, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com in a piece focusing on potential offseason moves in the AFC East. Tony Romo or Jimmy Garoppolo are more appealing choices, Barnwell acknowledges, but he doesn’t expect the former to sign in Buffalo (if the Cowboys cut him) or the Patriots to trade the latter within the division. If those two are unattainable, the draft could be an option, though Barnwell argues that the Bills shouldn’t reach for a QB with the 10th overall pick. That would leave Cutler as the most logical solution. Not only would he come on a short-term deal, but he’d reunite with new Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Cutler played under Dennison in Denver and has spoken highly of him in the past.
  • Speaking of Taylor, the Browns’ hiring of his former quarterbacks coach, David Lee, increased the passer’s odds of ending up in Cleveland, contends Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Taylor, who’s on the Browns’ “radar,” played under Lee in Buffalo the past two seasons and fared respectably in his first 29 games as a starter. The former Baltimore backup would replace Robert Griffin III, whom Cabot expects the Browns to release before his roster bonus is due March 11.
  • The Steelers’ contract talks with wide receiver Antonio Brown and linebacker Lawrence Timmons don’t figure to move quickly, tweets CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who expects running back Le’Veon Bell to be their biggest priority. Unlike Brown, who has another year on his deal, both Timmons and Bell could become free agents next month. Bell is clearly the more valuable of the two, of course, and the Steelers will place the franchise tag on the runner if they’re unable to re-sign him.

Aldon Smith Under Police Investigation

Troubled Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith is under “active” police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place over the weekend, according to TMZ. Police responded to a phone call placed from a San Francisco home early Saturday morning and took a report after speaking to Smith and the alleged victim. Smith was not arrested.

Aldon Smith (vertical)

If anything comes of the police investigation, it could be a death blow to Smith’s NFL career. The 27-year-old has already accrued five arrests since entering the NFL as the 49ers’ first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in 2011. He’s also amid his second suspension, one that cost him a significant portion of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 campaign. Smith’s latest ban came after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and he’s currently on track to gain reinstatement in March. But another serious off-field slip-up before then – which this could be – would surely prevent the league from allowing him to return.

While Smith is under Raiders control through next season, team owner Mark Davis has taken a strong stand against domestic violence, as Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News notes (Twitter link). As evidenced in the cases of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Josh Brown, all of whom were in the news for domestic violence incidents in recent years, it’s difficult to find work in the league these days with such a black mark on your resume. Like Hardy, Smith has been especially productive on the field. In 59 career regular-season games, Smith has amassed 47.5 sacks and five forced fumbles, though his immense talent has largely gone to waste over the past couple years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Aldon Smith To Be Reinstated In March

As long as he does not suffer any further setbacks in the league’s drug program, Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith will be reinstated in March, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Aldon Smith (vertical)

Of course, Smith was eligible to be reinstated from his latest suspension back in November, but the league deferred his request in December, opting to table its decision until the early part of the 2017 league year. Smith is under Raiders’ control through the 2017 season, so he will have the opportunity to put his off-field struggles behind him, reestablish himself as a pass rusher, and set himself up for a nice payday in 2018.

But that will be a tall order for a player who, for all his talent, has been largely unable to keep himself out of trouble. Indeed, Smith’s most recent suspension, a one-year ban, stemmed from his August 2015 arrest on drunken driving, hit and run, and vandalism charges. That was the fifth time Smith had been arrested since he entered the league as the seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft. The 49ers, who drafted Smith and who reaped the benefits of his fearsome pass rush ability for several seasons, had simply had enough at that point, and they cut Smith shortly after the arrest.

He was subsequently scooped up by the Raiders, and he posted 3.5 sacks for Oakland in nine games during the 2015 season before being hit with the one-year suspension (he also served a nine-game ban in 2013 for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies). Despite that, Oakland handed Smith a two-year, $11.5MM deal last spring, and GM Reggie McKenzie has repeatedly expressed support for the troubled young talent.

In just 59 career games, Smith has racked up 47.5 sacks, so if he is able to stay on the field in 2017, he and newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack could give opposing quarterbacks fits next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Palmer, 49ers, Saints, Bears

The Cardinals don’t know if quarterback Carson Palmer will return in 2017 for what would be his age-37 season, but one new rumbling on the three-time Pro Bowler could be cause for pessimism. Palmer has put his Arizona home up for sale, pulled his kids out of school and relocated to another state, Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 hears (Twitter link via one of Jurecki’s colleagues, Jody Oehler). But Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has radically different information, tweeting that Palmer has not put his house up for sale. For now, Palmer is under contract through 2018 and set to rake in a $15MM base salary next season.

More from the NFC:

  • The 49ers are suing one of their former stars, Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith, for $341,630.18 in signing bonus money, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. That figure represents the amount of money Smith hasn’t repaid the team since the NFL hit him with a nine-game suspension in 2014, when he was docked $1,186,027 for serving the ban. Despite an arbitrator’s order to repay the 49ers within 30 days, Smith hasn’t done so, thus leading to the lawsuit. The 27-year-old is currently serving another suspension and didn’t play at all this season as a result.
  • The Saints have added Curtis Johnson (wide receivers) and Brad Banta (special teams) to their coaching staff, relays Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. The hiring of Johnson is no surprise, as there was informed speculation Monday that he’d return to New Orleans after rejecting a contract offer to stay in Chicago. Johnson coached the Saints’ receivers from 2006-11, and newly hired Jets offensive coordinator John Morton‘s exit opened to the door for Johnson to rejoin the club. Banta, who was with the Redskins, will take over a Saints special teams unit that ranked 27th in the league in DVOA this season.
  • Bears director of player development Jerry Butler has retired, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The former wide receiver took the job in 2015, and he focused on helping the Bears’ young players adjust to the NFL during his two-year stint. Butler was a popular figure among the Bears’ youngsters – including standout rookie Leonard Floyd – per Biggs.
  • In what will be yet another Bears departure, assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower is set to leave Chicago to become the 49ers’ ST coach under soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan, tweets Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. Shanahan and Hightower were college teammates at the University of Texas, and they have since worked together on coaching staffs in Houston, Washington and Cleveland. Hightower’s tenure in San Francisco will be his second – he was its assistant ST coach in 2015.

NFL Won’t Reinstate Raiders LB Aldon Smith

The NFL will not be reinstating Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith this season, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter). The commissioner will revisit the case on March 15, 2017. Aldon Smith (vertical)

Smith was suspended in November 2015 and has been eligible to return for several weeks now. His camp was pushing Roger Goodell to reach a decision on the matter, but for one reason or another, the league office will table things until the early part of the 2017 league year. Meanwhile, Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is playing as he appeals his one-year suspension from the league. The two situations are not exactly identical, but the disparity does not sit well with many fans.

Smith has had multiple run-ins with the league’s substance abuse policy and his latest slip-up led to him spending roughly four months in a rehab clinic. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie indicated in October that Smith’s issues are under control after treatment. Of course, there are two sides to every story and it is possible that Smith has not fulfilled all of the prerequisites for reinstatement.

The Raiders have secured their spot in the playoffs, but they’ll have to forge ahead without the services of Smith or quarterback Derek Carr. On the plus side, they can clinch the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed this weekend if they beat the Broncos and the Patriots fall to the Dolphins.

Per the terms of the two-year extension signed with Oakland in April 2016, Smith is under contract with the Raiders through 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Raiders, Fisher, Rams, Broncos

Suspended Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith is “mad and frustrated” about the way his reinstatement bid has stalled, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Smith applied for a return in October, just under a year after the league handed him a one-year ban for a substance abuse violation. That year has since passed, but there’s still no word on Smith’s future. “He is losing hope,” Smith’s personal trainer, Steve Fotion, told Tafur. “They are jerking him around, telling him they’ll have an answer for him on Monday. And then nothing. It seems unprofessional.” Smith has “been randomly drug-tested and they have all come back clean,” Fotion added. The 27-year-old pass rusher met with commissioner Roger Goodell last Friday. Goodell acknowledged that meeting earlier this week, though he didn’t offer details on when he’ll decide Smith’s fate.

More on the Silver and Black and a couple other franchises:

  • There was a report earlier this week pointing to disharmony between Raiders owner Mark Davis and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, but team officials had a productive meeting with Adelson at his office Thursday. “Both are working very hard to finalize a deal,” tweeted Clark County (Nev.) Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who was also in attendance. Further, Sisolak dismissed the idea that Davis and Adelson don’t get along, writes Richard N. Velotta of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The Raiders remain focused on Vegas relocation, which the league could vote on in March, and don’t regard the city of Oakland’s $1.3 billion stadium plan as economically viable.
  • Former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher doesn’t believe the team ever intended to keep him in place for its 2019 move to a new stadium in Inglewood, he told FOX Sports’ Charissa Thompson (via Marc Sessler of NFL.com). “He didn’t win enough games, and the organization has a much bigger picture,” Fisher said on why the Rams fired him Monday. “And I don’t think I was ever part of seeing the new stadium.” Had the Rams experienced more success under Fisher, perhaps he could have been at the helm when they shifted to their new facility. The club went just 31-45-1 with Fisher, though, and its 4-8 start this year was enough for owner Stan Kroenke to go in another direction.
  • The Broncos worked out punter A.J. Hughes on Thursday, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Notably, the team already has a capable option in Riley Dixon, who ranks seventh in the league in net yards per punt (41.2) and 11th in punts inside the 20 (twenty-two). As of earlier this month, his net average was the highest ever for a rookie, per Broncos vice president of public relations Patrick Smyth (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Colts, Raiders, Cards, Bears

Colts owner Jim Irsay unexpectedly awarded four-year contract extensions to general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano last winter. Now, in the midst of a second straight disappointing season, Irsay gave somewhat flimsy votes of confidence to the pair Wednesday. “Honestly, at the end of every season, we sit down and review where we’re at,” he told Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “I don’t have any anticipation of change. There’s no plan of that. We’ll evaluate everything. I will.” On the possibility of the 6-7 Colts missing the postseason, Irsay commented, “This is the first time in almost 20 years we (wouldn’t have) made the playoffs in back-to-back years. That’s extremely disappointing.” Despite their sub-.500 record, the Colts remain in contention in the weak AFC South, though they’re going to have to leapfrog both the Texans and Titans over the season’s final three weeks to win the division. Indianapolis dropped its two matchups against the Texans this year, including a 22-17 loss last Sunday, but swept the Titans.

More from around the NFL:

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged his recent meeting with the Raiders’ Aldon Smith on Wednesday, but there’s still no word on when or if the league will reinstate the suspended linebacker. “It was good for me to hear from him personally. But when we get to that decision, we’ll certainly announce it,” said Goodell (via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com). Smith hasn’t played since the league issued him a one-year ban in November 2015 for a substance abuse violation. The 27-year-old should’ve been back in action by now, then, and the fact that he isn’t indicates he hasn’t met all the substance program’s requirements, tweets Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area Newspaper Group.
  • Cardinals players were “shocked” and in “disbelief” after receiver Michael Floyd‘s release on Wednesday, defensive back Tyrann Mathieu told Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. Floyd was a popular figure in the locker room, notes Weinfuss, and quarterback Carson Palmer called him a “close friend” and “leader.” The club moved on from Floyd, an impending free agent, shortly after he was charged with his second DUI in the past five years.
  • Bears receiver Eddie Royal is likely to end up a cap casualty in the offseason, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. By moving on from Royal, who has one year left on his contract, the Bears would save $5MM and incur no dead money in 2017. The 30-year-old Royal has hauled in 33 catches for 369 yards and two touchdowns in nine games this season, his second in Chicago.