Raiders Star Darren Waller Offers Help to Cowboys' Aldon Smith

Jordan Cohn
April 03, 2020 - 8:50 am

While the Cowboys added a lot of potential talent for a cheap price tag in their recent signing of Aldon Smith, the move comes with significant risk and some controversy as well. That's because Smith hasn't played a game in the NFL in four seasons and missed a lot of team during his active football tenure due to issues involving repeated drug violations, domestic violence charges and a hit-and-run DUI case for which the league still has not reinstated him.

But other players in the league have dealt with similar issues. For Raiders tight end Darren Waller, Smith's reported signing with the Cowboys offered an opportunity for him to reach out and lend a hand in a smooth return to the NFL.

In an interview with TMZ Sports, Waller said that he would "definitely be open to talking" with Smith and that he's "available for anyone that may be struggling with anything."

Most people have heard of Waller by now due to his breakout 2019 campaign in which he recorded over 1,100 yards in a struggling Raiders offense. However, the story that served as the backdrop of his career up to this point and was a story line in the docuseries Hard Knocks was that Waller served to suspensions at the beginning of his career with the Ravens. The second suspension was a year-long punishment without pay.

Even after his reinstatement by the league in 2018, the road ahead was difficult. He was waived by Baltimore soon after his reinstatement, but was fortunate enough to earn a second chance in Jon Gruden's offense. It's these experiences that warranted this honest and open gesture from Waller.

"I feel like he can kind of relate to the same thing as me," Waller told TMZ Sports. "It's like once you get that chance again, you realize how valuable it is to be a part of a team -- be a part of something that's bigger than yourself."

Smith has not yet been reinstated by the league, but considering the Cowboys went ahead and offered him a contract worth up to $4 million, many analysts seem confident that a return is in store.

If all goes well in his return and Smith has been able to maintain his skill set and physicality, this could be a move that pays huge dividends for Dallas. The Cowboys lost Robert Quinn, someone whose production last season (11.5 sacks) was not easy to replace. However, Smith was even better at the peak of his career, totaling 33.5 sacks after his first two years. Thus, with sky high potential, his contract could represent a major bargain.

Knowing that he has the support of another player who completely turned his career around after a similar situation should be a priceless asset in ensuring the smoothest possible transition back.

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