Aldon Smith was thoroughly vetted before he signed with the Raiders. The Silver and Black came away comfortable with the controversial edge rusher, looking for a new home after being released by the 49ers on Aug. 7.
Raiders brass had to sign off on bringing Smith into the fold, from head coach Jack Del Rio to general manager Reggie McKenzie to owner Mark Davis. Smith got approval from all three, which led to a one-year contract signed Friday.
The Raiders have been impressed with the 25-year old, who was recently charged with misdemeanor DUI, hit and run and vandalism from his latest run-in with the law. Smith is also facing the possibility of a long NFL suspension after being suspended nine games in 2014.
The Raiders feel confident in Smith, the information they have about his issue and their ability to create a productive work environment for him.
“There was a lot of work done on this,” Del Rio said in his weekly radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We wanted to be prepared in the possibility came about that we would be prepared to move quickly with the knowledge that everyone in the organization was comfortable with it. That takes time to do, and we worked our way through it on many different levels.
“We’ve made sure the structure is in place in a lot of different areas. We think that this is a talented young man who needs some good structure and support. He’s going to get that. We’ve invited him into this family with open arms. We’re looking forward to helping him grow on and off the field.”
The Raiders obviously had off-field issues to consider, but Del Rio delved into his football readiness prior to a final decision as well. He met with Smith’s agent and his private trainer, who was trying to keep him prepared for the next NFL opportunity.
“We were very pleased with that,” Del Rio said. “…I spoke to his trainer extensively about what he had been put through and where he was. You could see that he’s been at work, and preparing for a shot to play. When you look at him and see how he plays, you’ll see that he’s ready to go.”
That didn’t produce much in the regular-season opener. Smith took 29 snaps two days after joining the Raiders, on a day where the pass-rush didn’t have time to get going.
“We weren’t overly effective as a defensive front last week,” Del Rio said. “Our pass defense was not what it needs to be by any stretch. You certainly saw glimpses of what we will be capable of and how we will grow with a young man like Aldon.
“Good pass defense always has a good rush as a starting point, and we feel like, with Aldon on one side and Khalil (Mack) on the other, that we have the makings of a pretty good rush.”