Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith has been granted conditional reinstatement by the NFL from an indefinite suspension for violation of the league's personal conduct and substance abuse policies, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.
The move will allow Smith to take part in meetings with Cowboys coaches and teammates in the virtual offseason program beginning Tuesday. Smith, who has been living and working out in Dallas for the past month, met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell via a virtual call on May 14.
Smith, 30, has not played in an NFL game since he was suspended as a member of the Raiders in 2015 because of legal and substance abuse issues. Now that he has been reinstated, he will receive $90,000 from the Cowboys as part of the one-year deal he signed in April that could be worth up to $4 million.
Thirty days after reinstatement, Smith will get another $50,000. When he reports for training camp, he will receive $100,000, then another $100,000 after two preseason games and another $100,000 at the end of the preseason. If he does not make the 53-man roster, the Cowboys will be on the hook for $440,000 as part of Smith's deal.
Smith will earn a $910,000 base salary and $40,625 every time he is on the active game-day roster, totaling $650,000. He has incentives totaling $2 million for sacks: $500,000 for eight, $1 million for 10, $1.5 million for 12 and $2 million for 14.
The Cowboys are hoping that Smith, the No. 7 pick in the 2011 draft, can find the form that led to his recording 47.5 sacks in 59 games with the San Francisco 49ers and Raiders. He made a connection with new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy last year at a Los Angeles gym where he was working out, and he had his best two seasons with the Niners under current Cowboys defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, including a 19.5-sack season in 2012, when he was named an All-Pro.
Tomsula was one of the first additions to McCarthy's staff after Mike Nolan was named Dallas' defensive coordinator.
The Cowboys did not select a pass-rusher until the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft, when they took Bradlee Anae. They lost last season's leader in sacks, Robert Quinn, who had 11.5, in free agency to the Chicago Bears. DeMarcus Lawrence is the Cowboys' best pass-rusher, but he had just five sacks in 2019.
The Cowboys could see the return of 2015 second-round pick Randy Gregory, who was suspended from the league indefinitely in February 2019. His agent, Peter Schaffer, says Gregory continues to go through the return process after applying for reinstatement. He has had multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy and has not played since the 2018 playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams. He has played in just 16 games since 2015, his rookie season, due to suspension.
"We are very happy for Aldon and wish him all the luck in the world and a successful resumption of his career," Schaffer said. "It's refreshing to see the NFL following through on their stated goal to focus more on rehabbing players than punishing players."
Smith had his first off-the-field incident in 2013, when he was arrested on suspicion of DUI after crashing his truck into a tree in a residential neighborhood in San Jose, California. In 2014, the NFL suspended him nine games for violating the league's personal conduct and substance abuse policies.
In August 2015, Smith was released by the Niners the day after he was arrested on hit-and-run, DUI and vandalism charges. He signed with the Raiders a month later but was suspended for a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The Raiders signed Smith to a two-year deal in 2016 but released him in 2018 after he was arrested on a number of charges, including domestic violence, assault and false imprisonment. Smith pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanor charges in November 2018 to settle his domestic violence case from earlier that year.