Oakland Raiders: Mack Contract Status Story Enters Tabloid Fodder Territory

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Khalil Mack
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Khalil Mack /

The Oakland Raiders have been busy locking up their cornerstone pieces to lucrative long-term deals – giving rise to the idea that arguably, their biggest star is upset that he’s not getting a piece of the pie.

The Oakland Raiders can officially say they’ve arrived now that they’ve essentially become tabloid fodder.

Maybe it’s the offseason doldrums. Maybe it’s just a desire to stir things up a bit for the clicks. But a number of outlets are banging the drum of discord on reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack‘s behalf. And they’re banging it loudly.

Given the fact that the Raiders have lavished lucrative deals on foundation pieces like Derek Carr (five years, $125 million), and guard Gabe Jackson (five years, $56 million), that makes Khalil Mack next up in line for a new, lucrative deal.

Some journalists out there seem upset – on Mack’s behalf – that the deal hasn’t been done yet. That Mack isn’t making Von Miller-type money this season. Some of these journalists are demanding justice on Mack’s behalf!

Take this example from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

"“So Mack can’t really do anything at this point except be upset. And upset he should be, given that: (1) he’ll have to carry the injury risk for another year until he gets paid; and (2) the Raiders apparently are making a lame excuse for not paying him now”"

The idea that Mack “should” be upset about not getting a deal this offseason is – well – ridiculous. It’s not Florio’s place to tell Mack how he should or shouldn’t feel, for one thing. Would Mack like to get paid sooner rather than later? Of course. Who wouldn’t?

Is he upset that he didn’t? You’d have to ask Khalil personally.

Has anybody seen anything in the news or any reputable outlet that even suggests Mack is upset he didn’t get a new deal done this offseason? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Go scour the Internets and see if you can find something – again, from a reputable outlet – where Mack has expressed frustration or any form of discontent about not having a new deal done.

Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Oh, are you back? Find anything? No? We didn’t think so.

In fact, the same Mike Florio beating the drum of outrage on Mack’s behalf now, acknowledge back in December, via an article posted to PFT that Mack was fine with the state of things.

Per the article:

"“As for Mack, it’s currently believed he has no problem with waiting in line, in part because there’s really nothing he can do,” Florio wrote.”"

So, if Florio – who is very well connected in the league – acknowledged that Mack “has no problem waiting in line” back in December, why is he now firing the outrage-cannon on Mack’s behalf in June?

Oh right, the offseason. We need clicks. Got it.

Mack seems to understand that there is a natural process to things. An order. And given his the sentiments he expressed just six months ago, he respects the order and process of things and is willing to let it all play out as it should.

As much as folks like Florio apparently, would like to see otherwise, Mack is a team-first guy and isn’t going to stir up a lot of drama. Especially, when he knows that his payday is coming.

And let’s also not overlook the obvious – Carr and Jackson were both entering contract years. You don’t sign them to a long-term deal, you risk losing them once this season plays out. Unlike Mack, Carr and Jackson weren’t first round picks, so the fourth year of their rookie deal is their final one – they had to be signed.

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Mack has blossomed into the devastating NFL force everybody knew he was going to be coming out of Buffalo. If he keeps playing like he has his first three seasons in the league, he could be one of the all-time league greats.

And most “assumed” that Mack would be rewarded for his standout play with a new deal this offseason. But with less cap space to work with than they’ve had in recent seasons and a couple of mammoth deals that needed to be made to keep their foundation intact, the Raiders are electing to push off Mack’s contract until a later date.

That’s the problem with assumptions though – things don’t always work out like you envisioned it in your head. But that doesn’t mean because things don’t, that when you cry “foul,” you’re right. You made an assumption, you were wrong – plain and simple.

Florio goes on to come up with a solution to the Mack contract status situation – which is actually not really a situation anywhere but in the heads of some writers. To sign Mack to a new deal this offseason, Florio proposes a restructuring of some current contracts to add to the money the Raiders have beneath the cap – which according to OvertheCap.com – currently sits at a tick over $18 million.

Florio, in his piece, cited an incorrect (not updated) cap figure for the team.

And let’s not forget that the team must still sign their top three draft picks, Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu, and Eddie Vanderdoes.

"“But if for some reason $32.8 million in 2017 cap room weren’t enough to sign all three players, more cap room easily could be created. A simple restructuring of the contract of guard Kelechi Osemele could instantly create more than $4 million in cap room. More than $2 million could be cleared by a simple restructuring of linebacker Bruce Irvin‘s contract.”"

Florio is right in that the Raiders could ask their guys to restructure their deals to free up some cash. But that’s simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. None of them will take less money – nor should they. By restructuring contracts, you’re simply kicking the can down the road.

Keep doing that and soon enough, the Raiders will find themselves in an untenable situation. Eventually, all of the money in those restructured deals will come due and the team is going to find itself in salary cap hell once again – a horrific situation GM Reggie McKenzie inherited and had to struggle his way through to get the team back on the right track.

So, given that the Raiders have already gone through salary cap hell and come out the other side, would they voluntarily go back into it again?

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McKenzie has developed a reputation for being responsible when it comes to doling out dollars, managing the cap like a master, and keeping his players happy. He takes care of his own – we’ve seen that since his tenure began.

And as a first round pick, the Raiders hold Mack’s fifth-year option – meaning, he’s under contract to the team for the next two seasons. McKenzie has built up trust with his players that they will be taken care of.

McKenzie got deals done with a number of guys including Carr and Jackson – he has credibility and Mack will get his due. Mack knows this – which is why back in December, Florio quoted his source as saying that Mack “has no problem waiting in line.”

Khalil Mack is one of the most dominant forces in the NFL today. The idea that McKenzie and the organization aren’t going to take care of him to keep him in-house for the long-term is beyond asinine. And suggesting that Mack should be upset that his deal isn’t done yet is even more asinine than that.

Mack is entering the fourth year of a five-year deal. The Raiders have two seasons to get a deal done. And they will get a deal done, there is absolutely zero question about it.

The actual question that should be asked is, if Mack “has no problem waiting in line” for his deal to get done while guys drafted ahead of him are taken care of, why should anybody – like Florio – have a problem with it? Why should some be agitating for discontent and discord and making what really is a non-story like this blow up?

Oh right – again. The offseason. Clicks must be had.