Donald Penn: Khalil Mack trade took a toll on Raiders

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The Raiders weren’t going to win many games even if they hadn’t traded Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, but Mack’s departure hit the team particularly hard.

And it was more than just the absence of Mack’s pass-rushing skills that hurt the Raiders.

“No matter what nobody says, we tried to overcome it, but when you trade your best player away in the beginning of the year, it takes a toll on guys,” offensive tackle Donald Penn said on NFL Total Access. “Whether they say it or not. We fought through it. We tried to stay together. It was a tough season.

“Khalil Mack is one of my good friends. I’m happy he did what he did. But I knew kind of when I saw Aaron Donald sign that deal, I kind of knew in the back of my head that we weren’t going to be able to sign Khalil cause all the money he was going to ask for. I knew what [Jon] Gruden was coming from cause I might know different cause I been in the league for so long. I know it’s a business.”

The Raiders weren’t willing to pay Mack what the Bears did — $141 million — and Cooper’s pay day also was on the horizon. So Oakland cleared cap space and collected draft picks, though the draft picks are not nearly as high as the Raiders hoped.

“This year we have all these draft picks. We have all this cap room,” Penn said. “If we would’ve signed Khalil, we might not have that. I understand kind of why he traded Cooper away too cause now we have another draft pick, and we have more cap room cause Cooper would’ve had to get signed this offseason. It’s not my decision. My decision, I would’ve kept Coop. I love Coop. That’s my boy.

“But at the end of the day, I’ve been in the league for 13 years. I know a business. That’s a business decision that’s made. I’m behind Gruden. Guys are behind Gruden. We’re ready to get to work and turn this thing around.”

22 responses to “Donald Penn: Khalil Mack trade took a toll on Raiders

  1. And a convenient out for a really bad team and a really bad coach.

    Now let us see them mess up the draft.

    Still need a place to play too.

  2. You can say you’re behind Gruden but in actuality he’s behind you as you’re walking out. Penn was already on thin ice and w/his comments he’ll now be shown the door. He’ll be easily replaced as I’m sure Gruden and Mayock scouted his replacement at the Senior Bowl.,

  3. Yeah they replaced him with two offensive tackles and how’d that work at last season? Miller let up more sacks than any tackling the week I believe

  4. And before them there was Ware & Sharpe also complete waste of time don’t tell me how easy it is to replace Donald Penn

  5. It is a difficult road to attempt to navigate when you commit so much money to one or two players because of their elite status. It almost puts a team in a win now scenario. It seems to hit the second tier players the hardest(above average but not elite). They try to get an extension beyond their initial deal and all of the sudden they are dispensible( team can save 2 million or so and they can be replaced via the draft). Truly, the only team that successfully fields a competitive team year in /year out is NE. They keep just enough core players and the remaining players are from the Dollar Store. With the exception of TOM, they don’t pay elite money to anyone else. Hate it but they have the blueprint.

  6. I can’t stand Donald Penn, but in this case he’s 100% correct.

    In my opinion, Gruden’s trade of a future HOFer in Khalil Mack for high draft picks was worse than Hue Jackson’s trade of high draft picks for Carson Palmer. With Gruden making the final draft selections there’s very little chance that the picks acquired will pan out (e.g. Bucs drafts run by Gruden; the Kolton Miller selection in 2018). And even if the draft picks were productive, they wouldn’t collectively amount to the value that Mack had on the field.

    This trade was the worst of a series of moves that Gruden made to decimate a flawed but mid-tier roster. It set the Raiders back for years.

  7. The Raiders have greatly improved the quality of their “management staff” (Mayock needs to be factored in to all of this too). Gruden’s a little like George Allen. He seems to like veterans as opposed to (new) draft picks. I could be wrong, but if memory serves – the same thing happened at the Buccaneers went through a similar thing.

  8. For all the outside criticism that Gruden takes in various media outlets. It really says something when a guy like Penn, whose pro career basically started with Gruden in Tampa, has remained loyal to his coach.

    This is a bit reminiscent of when Gruden first showed back up in Oakland with many of his former players standing with him in full support.

  9. Mack agreed to his 5th year option and choose to hold out. Raiders made him and offer and he rejected it, so they got the best deal they could get. Mack is currently 0-2 in the plaoffs, you heard his named called 1 time in the playoff game vs the eagles. Mack was on the field when Nick Foles drove down and scored what was the game winning touchdown. bears will be in cap hell in a couple of years.

  10. And even if the draft picks were productive, they wouldn’t collectively amount to the value that Mack had on the field.


    Not just draft picks. The Mack and Cooper trade also frees up cap space. The team has some holes in it and that cap space allows the Raiders to get 3-5 free agents to go along with the 3 first round players.

  11. Penn always talks like he’s an awesome player and a future HOFer…dude please, you talk too much. Wouldn’t be surprised if you’re next to hit the road

  12. Based on Mack’s actual performance, you could have only missed him for two quarters per game. He became invisible or was on vacation for the other two quarters where he had zero impact.

  13. Whether you like Gurden or not, any head coach needs to do what he thinks is in the best interest of his team. Gruden say a mediocre team that might be able to sneak into a wild card slot one out of every three or four years but really didn’t have the make up to compete for the Superbowl. He saw Mack and Cooper as veterans that were going to rightfully demand high salaries that would lock the Raiders into the core players that couldn’t compete for the SB, so he decided to avoid that salary cap hell and try to collect as many assets as possible. Remember that the Raiders got two first round picks for make (2019 and 2020) and avoided the highest defensive player contract in the history of the NFL. The Bears will have to pay their QB who is on his rookie deal eventually and that will overlap with Mack’s deal, which means two players will make up around $55 – $60 million of their cap space. The Raiders also got Dallas’ 1st round pick and avoid Cooper’s, sure to be huge, salary demands. Value is the draft presents itself when you have players on their rookie deals that are out playing the cap space they are eating up due to the rookie salary wage scale. When teams start to retain their draft picks that are performing at market value they enter the beginning of the end stage, if they are a good team and enter into salary cap hell if they aren’t.

    One of the reasons NE is so good at staying at the top of the league is that they don’t overpay players. There is a perception that Brady is the exception to this rule, but he has taken a page out of Michael Jordan’s playbook, in that he accepts lower than market value in his contract to make the team better. Brady is scheduled to make $16 million next year, which is about $10 – $15 million below his market value. Jordan was at times not even the highest paid player on his team, so that the team could be better, thereby lifting his profile and leading to more non-salary money by way of endorsements. Brady knows his legend grows with every winning season, as did Jordan, and he knows the best way to keep winning is doing team friendly deals. Jordan did this until the end of his run with the Bulls, when he was being paid more than $30 million per year . . . Brady might do that as well with his last contract but up until know he has given away a substantial home team discount. None of the Raidres players are going to do that.

  14. charliecharger says:
    February 7, 2019 at 6:40 pm
    I’ll bet the Raiders win a super bowl before the Cowboys or Bears. The race isn’t won at the starting blocks. It’s won at the finish line.
    Can’t get to the finish line if you don’t make the playoffs. Once every 17 years won’t cut it.

  15. Raiders have the toughest schedule in 2019.

    Not shocking news.

    They’ll most likely be Top 5 is miles traveled…again.

    The NFL and its schedule makers like to stick it to the Raiders.

    Every. Single. Year.

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