The Oakland Raiders had big problems from 2003-2015 as they went without a winning season. Coaching, draft busts and free agent busts taking up salary cap space were all among them. After two years of deconstruction from 2012 to 2014, G.M. Reggie McKenzie cleaned all that up.
Then from 2014 up to now, he has drafted very well and is coming off his first winning season with the Raiders. So now, he has a different set of problems, the kind you get from having a good team. Having a good team means you have good players and good players require a lot of money.
This is the salary cap era so franchises have to choose who they give that money too wisely. So far, they have done well, paying QB Derek Carr and OG Gabe Jackson big money so they don’t hit the market next offseason. In the coming years, the Raiders will have guys like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper to deal with.
And they planned for that so there’s nothing to worry about for the franchise there. But one thing the Raiders didn’t plan for is veteran left OT Donald Penn holding out of training camp this year. He has outplayed his contract from 2014 that’s scheduled to pay him just $5.8 million this year.
Some say that Penn has all the leverage because he’s an elite left tackle while Carr needs protection. We all remember what happened to the Raiders at the end of last year when he got hurt. But at the same time, Penn is 34 years old and left OTs at that age just don’t get contracts that big.
That was until 35-year-old Andrew Whitworth just got $36 million over three years from the LA Rams. With that deal, Whitworth set the market for older left OTs still playing at an elite level. Nothing else in this world could have had more to do with Penn’s holdout than Whitworth’s deal.
The one piece of leverage the Raiders have is the fact that Penn is still under contract for one more year.
So what do the Raiders do now?
Do they pay him or do they stall him out?