Khalil Mack now joins Donald Penn, JaMarcus Russell, and Charles Woodson as the four Raiders since 2004 who have held out from training camp.
NFL players holding out from training camp in hopes of getting a new contract is nothing new. It has been going on for years, every season there are elite players hoping to have their current deal re-worked or ink a new big deal.
Unfortunately, for the Raiders one of the big names exercising their right to holdout this year is 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. Mack’s absence at training camp comes as no surprise as he did not attend any of the offseason workouts.
Mack is in the final year of his rookie contract and is set to make $13.8 million.
The Raiders have been relatively lucky when it comes to player holdouts. Since 2004, the Raiders have had only three other players miss time from training camp due to contract disputes. In 2004, Charles Woodson sat out 33 days of camp while seeking a long-term deal and to be the highest paid cornerback in the game. Eventually he signed his one-year franchise tag tender that paid him $8.7 million.
Who could forget JaMarcus Russell’s epic holdout in 2007. After being selected first overall in the 2007 draft, Russell not only sat out the entire offseason and preseason but also was not in uniform for the Raiders opening game of the season. Russell got what he wanted when he and the Raiders agreed to a six-year, $68 million deal.
And just last season, starting left tackle Donald Penn thought he was in line for a raise on his current deal based on his performance in recent years. Penn was seeking top 10 tackle money, after a 26 day holdout Penn returned to the team in good faith before contract discussions could take place.
Before we get into more depth about Khalil Mack’s situation let’s take a look at some other notable holdouts in the history of the NFL.
Darrelle Revis, 2010
Much like in the case of Khalil Mack, Revis was entering the prime of his career and was one of the top players in the league at his position. The Revis vs Jets holdout proved to be an ugly one as it was played out for all to see on HBO Hard Knocks.
Revis missed the entire training camp and preseason during his time away. Racking up $578,305 worth of fines. After 33 days away from the team and a visit from then coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson, Revis agreed to a new four-year, $46 million deal.
Kam Chancellor, 2015
The newly retired Kam Chancellor was involved in a very lengthy and costly holdout in 2015. Chancellor was absent from the team from the end of the June minicamp until after week two. After an 0-2 start, and nearly eight weeks away from the team Chancellor returned to the field without a new deal.
Chancellor was looking to have his deal restructured to push money from the later years of his contract to the front. The team would not budge. Chancellor accumulated nearly $2 million in fines and two game checks worth $267,647 each.
Le’Veon Bell, 2017
After a dominant 2016 campaign the Pittsburgh Steelers slapped the franchise tag on Bell. When the team failed to sign him to a long term contract, to the surprise of none Bell sat out all of the preseason. Bell returned to the team on September 1st, and signed his $12.1 million franchise tender.
The case for Le’veon Bell and a long term contract is complicated because of the unique abilities he presents as a player. Not only the teams leading rusher but Bell is a major threat in the passing game out of the backfield. Bell is looking to flip the running back market, which is why Bell finds himself in the middle of a second training camp holdout in 2018.
Aaron Donald, 2017
Raiders fans are hoping that Khalil Mack’s contract situation plays out much like the Aaron Donald holdout from 2017 from an on the field standpoint.
Entering the fourth year of his five year rookie deal, Donald was looking for a new deal sooner rather than later. His three month hiatus from the team ended in week one of the regular season. Donald was not active for week one and also did not receive the mega deal he was hoping to land.
Despite missing the entire preseason and week one, Donald set himself up nicely for a major pay day when he earned 2017 defensive player of the year honors.
Like Le’veon Bell, Donald is again holding out in 2018. Many NFL pundits believe that the Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald deals are linked and both are waiting on each other to make the first move.
What does this mean for Mack?
In the case of Khalil Mack there are many factors that make his situation unique. Mack is by far the best player on the roster, and arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL. There are two other factors involved that make Mack’s situation tricky. One, the teams impending move to Las Vegas with a much more player friendly state income tax and the contract negotiations of Aaron Donald.
It seems likely that at this point Donald and Mack are waiting for the other to sign first and set the market for the other one to then break it. In my opinion, the Raiders would be wise to sign Mack before Donald signs and maybe they save themselves a few bucks.
August 7th, is a date to keep in mind. They have been reports that Donald could be forced to report to training camp by August 7th due to his holdout from last season. If Donald does not report a month before the opening of the regular season, he wouldn’t get an accrued season towards free agency. He would be a restricted free agent in 2019. Whether or not this is entirely true is yet to be seen.
To this point, reports from national media members claim that there has been no progress and no discussions between the two camps.
Local beat writers have a differing opinion on the matter and insist that the negotiations are going slowly but things are not as dire as national media is reporting.
One other aspect that could be a factor in things moving along at a faster pace would be for Mack to first return to the team before contract discussions can heat up. Last year during Donald Penn’s holdout, general manager Reggie McKenzie was adamant that he would not talk contract with a player who was not in camp. For obvious reasons, this may not be the case for Khalil Mack but is something to keep in mind.
It is still early in training camp and although it is not ideal for your star player to be away from the team we have to remember this is a business. Khalil Mack is not the first player looking to strike while the iron is hot and certainly won’t be the last.
Raider nation remain calm, history has shown us that these things tend to work themselves out. We will see #52 out there week one.