Odell Beckham, Jr. got his money. So did Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Donald is reportedly on the verge of finally getting the Rams to pay him. Khalil Mack, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to signing an extension with the Raiders.
This is the time of year, just days before the season starts, when the winds are supposed to shift towards the settling of various contract disputes, be they amicable or begrudging. But Mack’s saga with the Raiders seems to be progressing in the other direction. The last few days have brought a smattering of reports that all place Mack and the Raiders at increasing odds, and now trade rumors are even getting thrown around.
Yahoo’s Charles Robinson says the two sides haven’t even spoken to each other in months, and that Mack is likely to miss regular season games. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that the Raiders would consider a trade package for Mack. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports, confusingly, that the Raiders have no “imminent interest” in dealing Mack, but if they did the asking price would include two first-round picks, and that a great many teams are interested in making a deal.
As always, the thing to consider here is how these trade rumors are leaking out to the press, and who benefits from them. If the information is coming from sources around the league, it could mean that rival GMs see an opening and are keen to further agitate the relationship between Mack and the Raiders to the point that Mack may even demand a trade. Or the leaks could be coming from the Raiders’ front office, which is trying to demonstrate to Mack that they really don’t need him that much, and would be fine with letting him sit out or leave via trade.
Given that the Raiders haven’t even negotiated with Mack since February—and it’s not clear that they even made him an offer at all—they seem very committed to playing hardball with him. But that still leaves the question of what their actual plan is, beyond refusing to pay Mack what he’s worth. The best case scenario for the Raiders right now would be a repeat of what happened with Aaron Donald’s holdout last year, in which the Rams waited him until the very last moment, at which point Donald blinked and returned to the team. But then what? Are they going to franchise tag him next summer and further alienate the best player on the team? Let him walk?
The Raiders have gotten to the point where they simply need to decide if they want a happy and productive Khalil Mack on the team, or if they don’t. If they do, it’s time to give him his extension. If they don’t, it’s time to trade him.