UPDATE (1:10pm on Monday, April 4) -- The Raiders re-signed Aldon Smith, the team announced.
UPDATE (12pm on Monday, April 4) -- Aldon Smith posted a picture to his Instagram account of him signing his new contract with the Raiders.
Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith got suspended for a full calendar year last November. Both player and team immediately said a reunion was in the works.
Smith was in the Raiders’ long-term plans, and the 26-year old wanted to remain in the East Bay after a nine-game cameo in Silver and Black.
The Raiders apparently didn’t want to wait before securing Smith. The sides have agreed in principle on a contract, the Raiders announced on Monday. Smith was at the team facility to finalize the deal.
Smith signed a two-year contract worth $11 million in base value, a league source said, with $8.5 million in incentives based largely on sacks and postseason honors. Fox Sports was first to report the contract terms. Smith should be suspended most of this season, so the actual base pay will depend on how many games he plays upon return.
The former 49ers sack machine had 28 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 32 other quarterback pressures for the Raiders in 2015, and proved to be a solid locker room fit.
His season came to a halt on Nov. 15, 2015, when the NFL suspended Smith a full calendar year for yet another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He must be reinstated next fall and can’t have contact with Raiders coaches, but the league announced the unrestricted free agent was able to sign with any team before his suspension ends.
General manager Reggie McKenzie said last week that Smith remained in the Raiders’ long-term plans. Head coach Jack Del Rio wanted Smith back in the mix even after signing Bruce Irvin this offseason, but acknowledged Smith has work to do before football becomes a primary focus.
“He’s got work to do on his personal life,” Del Rio said. “And it might make sense at some point, as long as he’s taking care of the things he needs to take care of, that he can return.”
Even after signing with the Raiders, Smith won’t be able to participate in any team activities until formally reinstated. He can apply 60 days before his suspension is scheduled to end, and he must be a model citizen in the interim. There is no guarantee that he’ll be reinstated right away.
Assuming Smith adheres to the league’s strict policy regarding substance abuse, he would complete a ferocious Raiders pass rush that already includes Irvin and budding superstar Khalil Mack.
When asked about pass rushers, Del Rio believes “you need three,” and he would have versatile pieces to use in a hybrid defensive front loaded with young talent.
Smith has had a series of run-ins with the law after being drafted by the 49ers in 2011. His latest issue came last summer, which led to misdemeanor charges of DUI with a prior conviction, hit and run and vandalism under $400. The 49ers released him after than incident, and he signed with the Raiders shortly after.
The partnership went well, and fostered hope in a return.
Del Rio has voiced displeasure with the NFL rule that prohibits coach interaction with a suspended player. Smith is only allowed to meet with a Raiders counselor during his suspension.
“It’s unfortunate that is the case because I think in a lot of cases, a lot of times, these young men could use some of that mentoring role from coaches,” Del Rio said. “It’s not always about football. Sometimes we’re just helping men be good men. I think having that support system could be beneficial. I’m not the doctor here. I don’t make the rules.”