Donald Penn Deserves A Bump In Pay, Not The Shade He’s Getting

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: Donald Penn /

Donald Penn, cornerstone of one of the most dominant offensive lines in football is holding out in the hopes that he can squeeze some extra money from the team – and he’s well within his rights to do so.

The Oakland Raiders have one of the most powerful and dominant offensive lines in the league today. And big left tackle Donald Penn is one reason why. In his three seasons with the team, he hasn’t missed a regular season start and last year, gave up just one sack. At 34 years old, he’s playing as well as anybody else in the game today.

And given his very high level of play, Penn feels that he deserves a raise over the two-year, $12 million dollar deal – a deal with a $5.8 million dollar base salary for 2017 – he signed after a protracted contract process last season.

Penn has played like a top-ten tackle in the league and believes he deserves to be paid like one. And you know what? He’s absolutely right.

Although most people seem to acknowledge that Penn has far outplayed his contract, there are some who are beyond furious that he’d hold out. Indeed, in some corners of the Nation, there is much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments right about now, with some – as unbelievable as it is – calling for GM Reggie McKenzie to cut him.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s look at the practical, football side of this equation. Ignoring the fact that Penn has been one of the most dominant left tackles in the game today for the last couple of seasons, what will the Raiders do if they cut him? Turn the position over to David Sharpe? Jylan Ware? Vadal Alexander?

That might be the plan next year anyway, but having those guys learn from Penn for a season – and not throwing them straight into the fire unprepared – can be invaluable and help maintain the continuity on a very strong offensive line.

More from Golden Gate Sports

But, let’s be clear about this – Penn has been one of the most dominant players at his position the last few years. And yet, he’s currently the eighteenth highest paid player at his position. Clearly, the Raiders have gotten a bargain basement deal with Penn.

But now, after watching Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson get mammoth deals, Penn wants his piece of the pie. And why shouldn’t he? He’s as big a reason for Oakland’s dominant offensive line as the other three.

The most common argument against – as it always seems to be in the case of a player holding out in a contract dispute – is that he signed a deal and needs to honor it. Or that if he didn’t like the deal the team gave him last season, he shouldn’t have signed it.

Okay, fair enough. However, if it’s okay for a team to cut bait on a player who’s underperformed and hasn’t lived up to the terms of his deal – did somebody say Austin Howard? – then why is it not okay for a player to ask for more money when he’s outperformed his current deal?

The fact of the matter is that teams are always re-evaluating players and their contracts – cutting those whose return on investment has diminished. Just ask Taiwan Jones about that.

So, given that teams are constantly evaluating, why shouldn’t players have the same right? And the only way they can force that re-evaluation is by withholding their services.

Next: Raiders Training Camp Off To An - Interesting - Start

Think about it this way, the 34-year old Penn has a few years left in him? At best? His days of earning are rapidly coming to an end and he’s looking to maximize the time he has left. This is very likely, his last legitimate shot at a big payday – so why is anybody begrudging him for trying to maximize his value?

Especially when he’s earned it.

There’s another way you can think about it, of course. If you are angry about him holding out and are throwing shade at Penn for trying to get himself a raise, then you probably shouldn’t even think about asking for a raise at your own place of employment — because, hypocrisy.

The word is that Penn wants top-ten tackle money – which would put him in the $10-11 million dollar range for the season. Given that his current deal calls for him to make up to $7 million, the Raiders will likely need to come up with another $3-4 million to make Penn happy.

And given that they cut Taiwan Jones and Austin Howard, they should have the money to pony up.

Given that McKenzie is stockpiling young linemen, this will likely be Penn’s last season with the team. He’s been a strong leader and a core piece of one of the most dominant lines in football today. He is part of the reason for the team’s success in recent seasons – and he’s been a tremendous value, at that.

Penn deserves a raise – he doesn’t deserve the shade being thrown his way. If McKenzie is smart, he’ll get a deal done before this becomes a distraction with camp getting underway.

Donald Penn’s been a loyal soldier – it’s time to pay the man.