As expected, Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended Tuesday by the NFL for one calendar year because of violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy, a person with direct knowledge of the decision said.
The penalty is effective immediately, said the person, who was speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision hadn’t been formally announced.
Smith, 26, was released by the 49ers in August after several run-ins with the law and then landed across the bay with the Raiders. Smith went through the locker room and told teammates goodbye Tuesday. The Raiders had no official word on Smith’s status, and agent Doug Hendrickson didn’t immediately respond to phone or text messages.
Smith becomes the first player suspended for a full year since Cleveland’s Josh Gordon in February — also for substance abuse.
It’s unclear for which infraction Smith is being suspended. The Niners released him Aug. 7 following his fifth run-in with the law a night earlier on an off day from training camp. The franchise parted ways with one of football’s most menacing pass-rushers after Santa Clara police accused him of drunken driving, hit and run and vandalism.
Smith was in a contract year. He started seven games and played in nine for the Raiders, finishing his second straight suspension-shortened season with 28 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
He 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.
Smith signed a one-year contract with Oakland just two days before the season opener. The deal could have earned him as much as $8 million with bonuses and incentives.
The Raiders practiced at their facility earlier in the day and players were filing into the locker room when news of Smith’s suspension broke.
Smith pulled quarterback Derek Carr into an adjacent room and the two spoke at length before Smith returned to the locker room and began saying goodbye to several other teammates, including wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who played with him in San Francisco.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said in September that the team was well aware of Smith’s legal situation, surely knowing he might not be with the team for long given the possibility of another lengthy suspension. Still, it’s a big blow to a team still hoping to make a playoff run.
Smith was coming off one of his best games of the season in Oakland’s 30-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday when he had one sack and three quarterback hurries.
Police said in the August incident that Smith collided with a parked vehicle while parking his car, then caused further damage to the parked vehicle with his car door. The scene was only a couple of miles from 49ers team headquarters, at or on the street of Smith’s former luxury apartment complex.
Authorities said Smith left without reporting the collision or providing any identifying information. He later returned and was contacted by officers. Smith displayed “objective symptoms of being under the influence of an alcoholic beverage” and officers conducted a field sobriety test, police said.
That was the latest known incident for Smith in a long list of off-field issues.
He missed time during the 2013 season to undergo treatment at an inpatient facility following his DUI arrest on Sept. 20, 2013. That November, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon, stemming from a June 2012 party at his home.
Smith was arrested on April 13, 2014, at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said Smith was randomly selected for a secondary screening and became uncooperative with the process, telling a TSA agent that he had a bomb. No charges were filed.
He was drafted seventh overall in the first round by San Francisco in 2011 out of Missouri. He emerged as one of the NFL’s top defenders in 2012 with a franchise-record 19 1/2 sacks during the team’s run to the Super Bowl. Smith finished with 8 1/2 sacks and 34 tackles in 11 games in 2013.