Khalil Mack had to make a fairly minor statement on Monday.
As the Oakland Raiders started their voluntary offseason workouts, Mack wasn’t present, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. That’s unusual for Mack, but it’s part of the process that will end with the Raiders having to give Mack a lucrative extension.
Mack, the 2016 NFL defensive player of the year, is on the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, a contact that was worth a little less than $19 million over his first four seasons. It was one of the best bargains in the NFL. His fifth-year option was picked up, bumping up his salary to $13.8 million, according to Spotrac, but he presumably wants a deal that places him among the highest paid defenders in the NFL. He has earned that, and he’ll get it.
That Mack would stay away from a voluntary workout in April — though, ask any NFL player if “voluntary” workouts are really voluntary and you’ll get a laugh — isn’t that big of a deal, even if it was new coach Jon Gruden’s first time with his team. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who is also seeking a new deal, held out through preseason last season and won NFL defensive player of the year. Mack will be fine. But it’s a message that the Raiders must soon commit a large percentage of their salary cap to Mack.
They have a $25 million cap hit this season from quarterback Derek Carr, their other star from that 2014 NFL draft. The Raiders had a short-term benefit from having Carr and Mack on their rookie deals, but Carr got a huge pay raise and Mack’s is coming.
Mack’s absence isn’t a big deal for the Raiders now. Depending how Mack wants to handle this holdout (if you’d even call it that), he’ll be in shape when he arrives for the mandatory minicamp in June, training camp or the regular-season opener.
It’s just a reminder to the Raiders that a large bill is coming due.
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