- Khalil Mack and the Oakland Raiders are at a standstill that could see Mack’s holdout last well into the season.
- According to reports, negotiations have not been very productive, and with the season fast approaching, both sides think they have the leverage to outlast the other.
- Mack will undoubtedly become one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league in the near future, it’s just a matter of when, and if the Raiders are the team that is willing to write the check.
With the Oakland Raiders season opener now just days away, Khalil Mack’s holdout is set to last well into the season as both sides can’t reach an agreement to pay the young superstar and get him on the field.
Mack’s holdout is similar to that of Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams – both players are recent Defensive Player of the Year winners looking to redefine the market in terms of both annual salary and guaranteed money at their position. But while Donald and the Rams are reportedly at least close to coming to terms, it appears that the situation in Oakland may not be getting better any time soon.
According to Charles Robinson at Yahoo Sports, the situation is now looking dire.
“One source said there have been no meaningful talks between the two sides in months,” Robinson writes, adding, “[T]he situation has devolved to a deadlocked ‘pay him or trade him’ conversation.”
The problem is that the Raiders don’t seem especially interested in either of those options. Head coach Jon Gruden has essentially been given final say over any deal involving Mack according to Robinson and has not been involved in general manager Reggie McKenzie’s efforts towards developing an extension.
In the absence of a deal, Mack will miss out on some of the $13.8 million he was set to make in 2018, while the Raiders will be forced to begin the season without the heartbeat at the center of their defense. It’s a game of chicken that neither side seems to be worried about losing. As a result, Mack’s holdout could last well into the season if no deal is reached.
One option that is reportedly not off the table is trading Mack away to another team. There’s no doubt that there would be interest – there’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t like to add a Pro Bowl defender like Mack to their roster. But it’s not clear how high a price the Raiders would demand to trade away a superstar in his prime.
The Raiders are playing hardball, likely hoping that Mack softens a bit on his demands once he starts missing out on game checks worth a whopping $814,000 per week.
That said, the Raiders open their season with a nationally televised “Monday Night Football” game against the newly-reloaded Los Angeles Rams. Should the Raiders defense get torched at home in Jon Gruden’s debut, the leverage could swing back in Mack’s favor as the team scrambles to put a deal together.
There’s still no telling just how the negotiations between Oakland and Mack will play out, but with the season fast approaching, a lot is going to come down to which side blinks first.
Mack will eventually be one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league, it’s all a matter of precisely how much he’ll make, how much will be guaranteed, and how long the Raiders are willing to let their defense go out without him.