When Derek Carr was approaching the end of his contract, the Oakland Raiders were proactive and made sure to get him re-signed early.
When Gabe Jackson was approaching the end of his contract, the Oakland Raiders were proactive and made sure to get him re-signed early.
As Khalil Mack approaches the end of his contract, we are looking at a holdout from training camp because the Raiders have not been proactive enough in getting him re-signed, and that’s a big mistake.
Khalil Mack is hands down the best player on the Raiders, and it’s not even close. In fact, he’s probably the best player to don the Silver and Black since the team last went to the Super Bowl (yes, even better than the elder statesman Charles Woodson who ended his career in Oakland).
And yet, despite the fact that the team was lucky enough to land one of this generations best players, a future Hall of Famer, the best player this team has seen in a decade plus of bad football and at one of the most important positions in football, we’re staring a holdout dead in the face.
I fully understand that there’s a good chance Khalil Mack and his camp are waiting for Aaron Donald to sign in order to set the market, but that doesn’t explain reports that the two camps are nowhere near a deal and haven’t made much if any, headway this offseason.
It’s hard for me to understand why contract talks haven’t gone smoothly and why things are tense. With a player like Mack, the Raiders should have been just as proactive as they were with Carr and Jackson, if not more so. They should be offering deals that are good enough to at least make Mack consider being the first player to sign.
Instead, it appears that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has not even met with Khalil Mack since being hired back to the team. That’s just a bad look, plain and simple.
Some will undoubtedly point to the fact that the Raiders can control Mack for three more years thanks to the franchise tag. But there are multiple problems with that option. First of all, players who are tagged twice, rarely end up re-signing with their team. The use of the tag typically produces resentment from the player and the damage that is done through that process is rarely repaired.
But the other problem is that the Raiders become beholden to those cap numbers for the next two seasons. The tag price for 2018 is $17.143 million and that number will only go up over the next two seasons. If the Raiders re-signed Mack to a long-term deal now, they get a say in how that money gets spread out.
At the end of the day, Khalil Mack is an elite, once in a generation talent and that’s not the kind of player you want to have contract issues with. No matter the number, Khalil Mack is worth the price. Every year, record-setting contracts are signed and the very next year the cap increases and another set of record-setting contracts are inked.
It’s how the NFL works now and no matter how the Raiders play this, they’re going to have to pay a ton of money to Mack. Whether it’s through the tag or a contract, that’s the reality of having one of the greats on your team. The Raiders need to come to terms with that reality and give Mack a very generous contract so the team can continue to move forward and away from the kind of terrible decision making that led to a disastrous 2017 season.
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