Through Day 11 of Khalil Mack’s training camp holdout, rumors are giving way to panic, and panic is encouraging mass hysteria. In an incredibly self-sustaining haze, some fans and media alike have suggested trading Mack.
I don’t know Reggie McKenzie personally (did meet him once), but I’m more than willing to bet the entire farm, my kids college funds, an empty IRA, and any line of credit I could pull from, that McKenzie will never trade Mack. Ever. Not in a million freaking years.
McKenzie, will not allow himself to be “that guy” the man known to have decided he couldn’t come to a contractual agreement with arguably the best edge defender since LT (Yeah I went there).
Mack is 27 years old and in the prime of his NFL career. He has already been the Defensive Player of the Year, been named All-Pro at two positions, in the same season. Never been done before, ever. Mack accomplished these feats on what we can say were poorly executed defensive schemes.
With a highly regarded defensive mastermind awaiting his arrival with the giddiness of a 4 year-old waiting for their parents to wake up on Christmas morning. It would warm the cackles of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s heart, to have to stay up late and think of new ways to unleash Mack.
Then there’s the issue of trade compensation. Tim Kawakami covered it well in a piece for The Athletic.
If the Raiders were going to trade Mack, the time to do it would’ve been before the NFL Draft in April — when they could’ve recouped a couple of high picks, drafted who they wanted, and had those players practicing right now, ready to help them this season.
Now lets take that notion and expand upon it, just a bit, shall we. Lets say a trade package was put together of 2 first round picks in this years draft, two either 2⁄3 round picks, and a player. Name me any four mixed and matched collegiate players from this years draft you would rather have, instead of Mack in Guenther’s defense with help. I’ll wait.
The correct answer should be a loud and resounding ‘hell no!’ Simply because you just don’t trade a generational talent at a premium position. It would be folly. Kawakami, called it a panic move.
It’d be a panic move to trade Mack now, in the middle of a stalemate, for picks that won’t help them until 2019 at the earliest. That doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t do it if this drags into mid-September, but if you’ve got any sort of ability to plan for the long term, you don’t do something like this now. The NFL is set up so you don’t have to.
What’s really interesting about this particular holdout, its originates from a good ol’ stick measuring contest between two of the best. Aaron Donald has been nearly Mack’s equal, some may even consider him superior, and he is also negotiating to be the first defensive player to receive ‘QB money’. Donald, won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 has since been to four Pro Bowls and named a three-time All-Pro.
Donald and the Rams are at an interesting place. Donald, while tripling down on himself, is causing a fissure in the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners. He has now twice held out of camp at the detriment of accrued years of service, which will cost him a chance at Unrestricted Free Agency. While Donald may not be worried about whether he will be unrestricted or restricted free agent, he doesn’t intend on playing another down for his old contract.
Rams DT Aaron Donald has until Tuesday to report to camp or he will lose an accrued season and become a restricted free agent after this season, as opposed to an RFA. Saying that, Donald doesn’t care whether he’s an RFA or UFA; he’s determined not to play until he has a new deal.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 6, 2018
He is also attempting to be the first to bust the market for highest paid defensive player in the league. With those two sides actively engaging in talks, the silence between the Raiders and Mack seems deafening.
However, the reality is closer to this; Mack and his agent are holding out for the most money and to reset the market. Meaning they may not be interested in putting pen to paper until after Donald has signed.
It is a sound strategy to wait. Mack placed himself in a position to capitalize on his holdout. I’m of the belief he will get his money before the 2018 season kicks off, and some will lose their minds about the cost of a future Hall of Hamer in his prime.
In the midst of this standoff player vs player, agent vs agent, and team vs team you will hear all kinds of chatter, noise, jargon, false narratives, and bold-faced lies. One other issue Kawakami discussed remains true.
-The Raiders really have nothing to gain by trading Mack now. . .The Raiders want Mack. Gruden wants Mack. It’s one of the reasons he took this job — Mack and Derek Carr in place at very key positions.
Mack isn’t going to come cheap, nor should he, but at some point, perhaps by the end of preseason, he should have reached a record-setting deal with the Raiders.