Oakland Raiders: Projecting Future Contract Extensions

Nov 21, 2016; Mexico City, MEX; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and linebacker Khalil Mack (52) celebrate after a NFL International Series game against the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca. The Raiders defeated the Texans 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 21, 2016; Mexico City, MEX; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and linebacker Khalil Mack (52) celebrate after a NFL International Series game against the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca. The Raiders defeated the Texans 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders have built a foundation by drafting young talent, but as a result, they have several key players who will soon be due for contract extensions.

The 2014 draft class Reggie McKenzie put together will be one to remember for Raider Nation. Not only did the Oakland Raiders select plug-and-play types of players, but they were able to draft a pair of superstars in Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, as well as one of the best guards in the league in Gabe Jackson.

Now, what comes along with having young, elite talent like the Raiders do, are hefty price tags. In order to keep this home-grown talent, McKenzie is going to have to break the bank. The three aforementioned players will all certainly command some serious money, and it will be a balancing act to keep these players while also finding ways to keep the team competitive.

Fortunately for the Raiders, they’ll get the first crack at sitting down with these players in hopes of hammering out a deal. Ideally, on a deal that is a good amount less than what that player would receive on the open market.

The player that is at the top of McKenzie’s priority list is the franchise quarterback, Derek Carr. Along with being the most important player on the team, Carr offers leadership and intangibles that cannot be measured in a statistical sense.

Another reason why Carr is the top priority this offseason is because as a second-round pick, he does not have a fifth-year option on his contract, as Khalil Mack does. Therefore, the Raiders would be wise to sign him to an extension before the season starts.

According to Spotrac, Carr’s market value could be around $23 million per year. The projection they have for Carr’s extension is six years and just a hair under $138 million.

The NFL record for guaranteed money belongs to Andrew Luck, who had $44 million guaranteed at signing, with $87 million listed as his “practical guarantee”. Those are both figures that Carr could top on his deal. And even if it doesn’t, at the very least, Carr’s new contract will be right up there with Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, among others.

So while D.C. will certainly command top-end money, based on his performance in 2016 and his projected progression, Carr will be worth every penny.

The next player who will be due for an extension would be none other than the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack.

Mack had another monster season, and was a one-man show on a below average defense. In 2016, Khalil accounted for 44 percent of the team’s sack total. Through three seasons, Mack has accumulated nearly 200 tackles, and he has exactly 30 sacks.

Mack has gained a reputation around the league as one of the best closers in the NFL, as well as one of the best run defenders in the league. Luckily for the Raiders, they have the fifth-year option available for Mack, so he will be under his rookie contract for two more years. This will give the team some needed financial breathing room to make other moves until Mack is due for his payday.

However, it would still be wise to extend Mack now, simply because his market value will only go up from here. If Mack repeats as Defensive Player of the Year, which definitely could happen, he’ll be able to command even more money next offseason.

Spotrac has Mack pegged for a contract of around $20 to $21 million per year, with their contract projection at a seven-year deal worth over $144 million. The guaranteed money at signing could easily top $40 or more million, with the practical guarantees being well over $60 million, or possibly more.

The third major player due for an extension is unsung hero, Gabe Jackson. Although Jackson does not have any flashy stats thanks to the position he plays, he has earned a reputation as one of the most physical blockers in the NFL, and one of the best young guards in the league.

See the clip below as evidence.

If you look at some of the other second-tier guards in the NFL, such as Brandon Brooks and Mike Iupati, their average salaries come out to around $8 million per year. You can expect Jackson’s contract to be at or near this same amount. Big Gabe could end up somewhere around four years and $32 million, with about $20 million guaranteed.

Oakland is scheduled to have about $48 million in cap space to work with. That will change based on who is re-signed and if any players are cap casualties, but either way, I fully expect a chunk of that cap space to be spent on these three players.

McKenzie has been preparing for these contracts for quite some time, and has been on the record as saying that the organization should not have to worry about the cap.

Not having to go out and spend big money on has-been’s is something Raiders fans should get used to from here on out. Having home-grown talent means you can expect the Raiders to be relatively quiet during the free agency period in 2017 and beyond.

Next: Raiders Super Bowl 52 Odds

Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, and Gabe Jackson are foundational pieces that have been apart of the new winning culture in Oakland. Re-signing these key players as soon as possible will ensure that the success continues in the future.