Oakland Raiders: One Khalil Mack in the hand, is worth two in the bush

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09: Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders reacts after a play against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09: Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders reacts after a play against the San Diego Chargers during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Oakland Raiders superstar Khalil Mac k’s holdout had prompted some to call on the team to trade him – which is one of the dumbest ideas ever.

You might have to forgive Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie a little bit. It’s been so long since the organization has had a bona fide superstar, that maybe, he’s just not sure what he’s supposed to be doing with him or how to handle the situation.

The short answer to that, of course, is to pay the man.

Of course, with a plethora of issues and competing interests in play, it’s not necessarily as simple as that.

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As Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal points out, there are possible tax ramifications and perhaps, a negotiation about when the bulk of Mack’s contract will be paid out.

Long story short, if Mack’s guaranteed money is paid out before the team’s move, he’s subject to California’s 13.3 percent state income tax rate.

If the guaranteed money is paid out post-move, Nevada has no state income tax, which means he’ll keep a significant portion more of his paycheck.

It’s possible that, given the way McKenzie typically structures his deals – frontloading guaranteed money, rather than backloading it – that could potentially be a sticking point between the two camps.

It’s a sticking point though, that can be worked out.

Of course, it can only be worked out if Mack is still in a Raiders uniform and is willing to talk deal. Which, if some people get their way, won’t be happening.

As crazy and unthinkable as it seems, there are actually people calling on the Raiders to trade Mack.

Of course, there were also people calling on the team to trade or cut Donald Penn after the one, single sack he gave up in 2016. Of course, it happened to be the play that broke Derek Carr‘s leg and ensured a first-round playoff exit for the Silver and Black – so, take those words for what they’re really worth.

Some fans across social media, some television and radio talking heads, and even former Washington GM Vinny Cerrato chimed in, stating his belief that the Raiders will in fact, trade Mack.

"“My gut tells me that they’ll trade him and try to get some good draft picks for him. That’s what (my gut tells me) — especially if he holds out and especially if they’re doing well in the preseason and the defense is doing well.”"

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So, with folks all over chiming in with their belief/preference that the team move Mack and pick up some valuable draft picks in exchange, let’s pause for a moment and reflect on that. And then call the idea exactly what it is – monumentally stupid.

It’s a worse idea than New Coke. Or Crystal Pepsi. It’s a dumber idea than pretty much anything in the entire history of ideas. Ever.

Let’s start with the fact that Mack is a generational talent. He’s the kind of extraordinary superstar player the Raiders haven’t had in a very very long time. He’s disruptive and can change the course and complexion of a game on his own – as we’ve seen numerous times already in his still young career.

He’s put up incredible numbers every season he’s been on the field, has never missed a game, and has racked up honors and awards by the bushel. He is the best player in Silver and Black, and one of the very best defensive players in the game today.

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And some of you want to trade that guy? Oh, okay. Yeah, that makes sense.

Let’s also look at it from a practical perspective though. At some point, Mack will show up to play. It seems doubtful that he misses any regular season games, which will cost him plenty of money in game checks.

And when he does, the Raiders will owe him around $14 million for the season – minus any fine money the team decides to stick him with for missing camp and/or preseason games.

Rest assured though, we will see Mack on the field this season.

That gives McKenzie and Mack’s representation the year to figure something out. If they aren’t able to come to an agreement, we’ll do the same song and dance next year, but it seems likely the Raiders slap Mack with the franchise tag.

Which means, barring a contract agreement, he’ll play the 2019 season for a price tag of around $15 million or so, if initial thoughts Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk had, are correct. If forced to tag him again in 2020 – when they’ll likely be in Las Vegas – they payout will be around $18 million.

That’s a three year total of around $47 million for Mack and the Raiders. It’s certainly not ideal, and it’s certainly incredibly below market value for a player of Mack’s caliber.

And if the unthinkable happens and no deal is reached by the time the 2021 season rolls around, Mack’s tag will balloon to something around $26 million, according to Florio’s best guesstimate.

If – and it’s a big if – the Raiders do the franchise tag dance with Mack after this season, the next three years of his services would cost them about $59 million. Which is probably less than what Mack and his camp are looking for, not to mention the lack of long-term security.

By the theoretical time the Raiders stop doing the franchise tag dance with Mack, it will be heading into the 2022 season and Mack will be 30-years old. There’s no doubt he’d still have plenty in the tank, but by then, Father Time – not to mention the constant beating he takes at his position – may have taken a small toll.

All of that is to say, from a crude, cutthroat, business-only standpoint, the Raiders can squat on Mack, theoretically keeping him at below market value, and off the open market until the 2022 season, when he’s 31-years old.

The hope is that it never gets to that point. The hope is that even if they do fail to get a deal done this season, by applying the franchise tag next year, it will buy them time to work something out. And that’s what they need apparently – time to work something out.

The idea that the Raiders should send Mack to another team for a package of picks – no doubt they’d be able to squeeze a couple of first-rounders out of the deal – is ludicrous. Given the Raiders history with the Draft, there’s no certainty that even those extra first-rounders will net them a high impact, dominant player.

No, they already have that in Mack.

And yet some want to trade the certainty they have in one of the very best players in the league, in Mack for a roll of the dice in the Draft?

The idea is ludicrous beyond words. It’s an idea that’s so ridiculous, it should make you want to spout a long string of words and phrases not suited for a family-friendly forum, such as this.

The Raiders know what they have in Mack. The have sheer dominance and all-out effort on every snap. They have one of the very best players in the league in his prime. And while extra draft picks are nice and all, you just never know what you’re going to get – or not get in them, as the case may be with a few of Oakland’s early round draft picks the last few years.

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Ideally, the two sides will find some common ground and get a deal done. Sooner rather than later. Mack is a generational talent and should never wear any other colors than Silver and Black.

But, the idea that they should trade him needs to be dropped straight into the toilet and flushed. After all, one Mack in the hand is worth two in the bush.