BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio understands the yearlong suspension the NFL slapped on Aldon Smith in November that prohibits the team from having any direct contact with the outside linebacker.
That does not mean Del Rio necessarily agrees with the no-contact part of it.
"It's unfortunate that that is the case because I think a lot of cases, a lot of times, these young men could use some of that mentoring role from coaches," Del Rio said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "It's not always about football. Sometimes we're just helping men be good men, so I think having that support system could be beneficial.
"But I'm not the doctor here and I don't make the rules."
The Raiders signed Smith to a one-year contract in September on the same day he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of drunk driving, hit-and-run and vandalism. He was suspended for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy in November.
"He's in the program," Del Rio said. "He's got certain things that have to be fulfilled, so it's really in the hands of the league and the doctors -- the people that can do their thing with him.
"It's really up to him. I just think a lot of times, in these situations, these young men are on their own and I'm not sure that's the best for them, as people."
Smith currently is an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team at any time. The Raiders are the last team to have any formal contact with him and any negotiations would go through Smith's agent.
"He's got work to do on his personal life and it might make sense at some point, so long as he's taking care of the things he needs to take care of that he can return," Del Rio said.
Del Rio also said that Oakland's coaching staff was told by general manager Reggie McKenzie that the Raiders will "continue to have conversations" with Smith.
The Raiders signed former Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin in free agency to pair with All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack, though Del Rio said he'd like to have three such hybrid pass rushers. Irvin has already started recruiting Smith to re-sign with Oakland on social media.