We have hit day three of training camp and still no Donald Penn. The veteran left tackle is not happy with his contract and is holding out because of it.
That contract pays the 34-year-old a base of $5.8 million this season with a cap figure of $7.1 million. It’s the second year of a 2-year deal he signed last offseason. The first year of that deal he made the Pro Bowl, which presumably outplayed expectations considering the relatively meager deal he received which averaged $6.2 million per season.
The linemen around him got paid big money the last couple seasons. First it was Rodney Hudson in 2015 with $9 million per season, then Kelechi Osemele in 2016 at $11.7 million per season, and this offseason Gabe Jackson saw an extension that pays him $11.2 million per season.
After all that, it can be tough to be by far the lowest paid player among them despite holding arguably the most crucial position -- protection Derek Carr’s blindside. So, he is holding out, putting Reggie McKenzie in a tough position.
“Donald’s my guy. I love him to death,” said McKenzie. “Since he stepped right in when we lost Veldheer, I’ve told him he’s my guy. That’s not going to change. I’d love to have him. If you guys can go down to LA and drive him up, I’d appreciate it. But, you know, we’ll focus on those young guys and get them some reps and we’re just gonna keep moving.”
As to whether McKenzie will play hard ball or pay Penn what he feels he is worth, he had very little to say.
“I want him in camp,” McKenzie added. “He has a deal, so I want him in camp.”
To be clear, he isn’t saying Penn has a NEW deal ready for him. He’s talking about the deal Penn signed last offseason. He would like Penn to honor that deal.
What it comes down to at this point is Penn did outplay what he is to be paid this season. And he has plenty of leverage. The Raiders have high hopes this season and Penn is a big part of that. McKenzie was of the mind that he wouldn’t have to worry about the left tackle spot until next offseason. That’s why he didn’t address it this offseason either in free agency or the draft. Even though the guy he signed to play right tackle -- Marshall Newhouse — is now lining up at left tackle in Penn’s absence. No one wants that to continue any longer.
This is no time to play hardball. The Raiders have the money — especially after releasing Austin Howard — to kick a few million more to Penn to get him closer to kind of money his linemates are making and rejoining them as the Raiders make a Super Bowl run this season.