Aldon Smith is another step closer to possibly returning to the playing field.
The embattled pass-rusher met with NFL Commissioner and other NFL officials Friday in an effort to state his case for reinstatement from suspension, a source informed of the meeting told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The Raiders linebacker was suspended by the league for one year in November 2015 for violating its substance abuse policy.
Although nothing has been decided regarding Smith's reinstatement petition, which he filed in October, his meeting with Goodell and league officials is considered the final step before a potential reinstatement can be issued, Rapoport said.
Still, as Rapoport reported Sunday, the Raiders aren't necessarily counting on Smith being available to play. If he were to be available before the end of the season, the team would simply view his return as a bonus. There's also no guarantee he'll be in football shape and ready to be a valuable contributor if he were to return before the playoffs.
Smith signed with the Raiders before the 2015 season and registered 3.5 sacks before his ban. He previously served as a quarterback nightmare for the San Francisco 49ers, registering more sacks over the first two years of his career (33.5) than any other player in NFL history.