Raiders sign Aldon Smith to return after suspension ends
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders signed free agent pass rusher Aldon Smith to a two-year contract Monday to return to the team after his one year suspension ends next November.
Smith will not be able to re-join the team until after his suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy ends Nov. 17. Smith must apply to be reinstated by the commissioner before he is able to return. He can apply 60 days before the suspension ends but will not be allowed to participate in the offseason program or training camp.
Smith signed with the Raiders just before the start of last season after spending his first four years with the San Francisco 49ers. He had 3 1/2 sacks in nine games with Oakland.
The move to bring back Smith was expected as both he and the Raiders expressed interest in staying together immediately after the suspension was announced.
He had become a key part of the team's defense alongside fellow pass rusher Khalil Mack. Smith had 36 quarterback pressures before his suspension, according to Pro Football Focus, and was stout against the run.
Oakland added another edge rusher in free agency this offseason when the team signed Bruce Irvin but the Raiders also like the idea of having Smith provide a late-season boost as an additional pass rusher.
Smith has been one of the league's best pass rushers when available with 47 1/2 sacks in 59 career games. His biggest issue has been staying out of trouble. His off-field problems led to the 49ers to let him go and his latest suspension.
The Niners released Smith on Aug. 7 following his fifth run-in with the law a night earlier on an off day from training camp. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of drunken driving, hit and run and vandalism.
Smith also missed the first nine games of the 2014 season while serving an NFL suspension for violations of the league's substance abuse and personal conduct policies. He also missed time during the 2013 season to undergo treatment at an inpatient facility following his DUI arrest on Sept. 20, 2013.
The Raiders also are meeting with free agent safety Reggie Nelson as they seek a replacement for the retired Charles Woodson. A person with knowledge of Nelson's plans says that Nelson is at the team's facility on Monday as he seeks a new contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Raiders had not announced the visit.
Nelson was tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions last season with Cincinnati. He also had 14 passes defensed. Nelson was originally a first-round pick by Jacksonville in 2007 when current Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was coaching the Jaguars. In nine seasons with the Jaguars and Bengals, Nelson has 30 interceptions and 82 passes defensed.
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