A theory has been making the rounds regarding the lack of a contract between the Raiders and defensive end Khalil Mack. It goes like this: The Raiders and Mack are waiting for the Rams and Aaron Donald to get a deal done first.
That theory would be somewhat plausible if the Raiders and Mack were actively negotiating, trading proposals and waiting for the Donald deal to get done before landing the plane. But the Raiders and Mack haven’t talked since February, making it much harder to envision the Raiders and Mack waiting for the Donald deal to be finalized before essentially starting from scratch.
Also, why would the Raiders and Mack assume that Donald, who stayed away last year until the day before the season started, would sign early enough to allow the Raiders and Mack to get their deal done in advance of the Week One game between the Rams and Raiders? Waiting for Donald could have meant (and still could mean) following him into a regular-season holdout.
Another theory continues to linger regarding the Raiders’ financial wherewithal (or lack thereof) to sign Mack. Regardless of whether the team has the money now to pay Mack’s signing bonus — and to put into escrow all future guarantees covering 2019 and beyond — the Raiders and old/new coach Jon Gruden surely had the money in February.
But Gruden spent some $55 million in 2018 money on other players, taking a big chunk out of the budget that otherwise would/could have gone to Mack. Quite possibly, Gruden decided in February to move on to other players, when a deal wasn’t quickly done with Mack.
If so, Gruden likely now assumes that Mack will play for $13.846 million this year, and that the Raiders will simply franchise tag him next year. What remains to be seen is whether Mack shows up for Week One, or whether he’ll pass on game checks in excess of $800,000 each.
However it plays out, Gruden has publicly vowed to get Mack back. With no negotiations and possibly no money left in the 2018 budget to sign him to a long-term deal, whether Mack returns may be something that has nothing to do with anything Gruden says or does.