Oakland Raiders Facing Mack Truck Sized Problem

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TwinSpires Staff

August 22nd, 2018

The Oakland Raiders made the biggest change this off season of any NFL team. The Raiders hired former coach Jon Gruden at 10-years for $10 million to lead the Silver and Black back to the Super Bowl. Yup, a $100 million contract for a coach they traded away back in 2001. Never stop, Oakland Raiders.

Signing Gruden to such a big contract, signals a departure from what the Raiders usually do. The length of the contract implies Gruden has plenty of time to create a winner. But, like always in the NFL, Gruden’s actual window to produce a winner on the field (and in the playoffs) is shorter than the contract.

Which is why it’s so difficult to understand the Oakland Raiders playing hardball with their best player, linebacker Khalil Mack. So far, neither side will budge on a contract dispute that now enters NFL Preseason Week 3 betting.

Mack reportedly wants $22 million a year. That’s $3 million more per year than the highest paid linebacker in the NFL, Denver’s Von Miller. Just last week, rumors swirled that Chicago and Green Bay had contacted Oakland about acquiring Mack. On August 18, the Raiders said that they don’t plan on trading Mack. But the question still lingers...

Should the Raiders Trade Khalil Mack? Most NFL fans agree that Khalil Mack is the best defensive player in the league. He won the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. He played almost as well in 2017 as he did in 2016. He's produced 11 sacks in 2016 and 10.5 in 2017 during what was a down year for the Oakland Raiders overall.

Mack’s current contract pays him $4,669,250 this season, after which he becomes a free agent. Once he reaches that point, any team could sign Mack to a $20 to $22 million per year contract. Because a team will sign Mack, Oakland should do what they can to get Mack signed for the long haul. Losing the best defensive player in the league, and the best player on your team, could lead to disaster.

It’s not that the Raiders don’t want to sign Mack for any term. More so, it’s that the Raiders might not have the cash to sign Mack. Until Oakland moves into their fancy stadium in Las Vegas, they remain one of the poorest teams in the NFL. They also spent big on quarterback Derek Carr, who received a $125 million deal, and right guard Gabe Jackson who received a $55 million extension.

The Raiders get a huge $45.14 million in cap space come 2019, which means that they could be playing the long game approach, hoping Mack plays for the $4.6 million this year, and the $14 million after the Raiders pick up his fifth-year option in 2019. Then, the Oakland Raiders will be in a better position to do what they probably want to do - make Khalil the top paid linebacker in the NFL.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans don’t always work out, which is why the Raiders should trade Mack today. One rumored interested team, Green Bay, is flush with cash. Mack could demand at least a Round 1 pick along with a veteran left tackle, either Green Bay starter David Bahktiari or backup Kyle Murphy, while rookie Kolton Miller gets up to speed.

Green Bay could sign Mack to a long-term deal. He stays in the NFC where he can’t beat up Derek Carr. Sounds like a win-win, but the Raiders say they won’t do it.

What’s the cliché? You want to have your cake and eat it too? Well, being cake hogs could cost the Oakland Raiders a chance at acquiring the most they can for a player who’s already made up his mind to leave.