Khalil Mack's strong case for AP Defensive Player of the Year

Khalil Mack's strong case for AP Defensive Player of the Year

Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack has played three seasons now, each one better than the last. His third campaign was a dominant showcase for his playmaking ability, one many consider the NFL’s best.

His stats are strong. His play was clutch. His value was unmistakable. Without him, the Raiders defense would’ve been a mess.

The Pro Football Writers of America and Sporting News acknowledged those facts with a defensive player of the year award.

The big one, however, comes on Saturday at the NFL Honors awards show. The Associated Press awards are considered the highest honor, coming from a 50-member voting panel of writers and broadcasters across the country.

Mack is certainly a favorite to be the AP’s Defensive Player of the Year, and the first Raider to win the award since 1980. He has competition from Denver’s Von Miller, Atlanta’s Vic Beasley, New York Giants safety Landon Collins, Kansas City’s Eric Berry or maybe L.A.'s Aaron Donald.

Unlike awards in other leagues, there is no ranking talent with second or third place tallies. Voters pick one guy. That’s it.

A case could be made for any of the aforementioned. There’s a strong case for a few.

Mack is certainly there at or near the top. He didn’t lead the league in any official stat —Beasley and Miller had more sacks – but his line was incredibly diverse.

Mack finished the 2016 season with 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. He had 16 tackles for a loss, one off the NFL lead. According to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, Mack led all edge rushers with 96 total quarterback pressures, 17 more than Miller and 51 more than Beasley.

Mack was excellent against the run and pass despite significant attention directed his way. He would take over games, and was virtually unstoppable during an eight-game stretch with at least one sack.

He played well in nationally televised games, with a sack against Houston a Monday night and had two sacks and a forced fumble in a victory over Denver on Sunday Night Football.

Against Carolina, Mack showed incredible value. He had an interception returned for a touchdown at the end of the second quarter, and sealed victory late in the fourth quarter with a strip sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Then he recovered his own fumble. That wasn’t a one-time thing. He did virtually the same thing the following week against Buffalo.

Mack might get penalized because his defense wasn’t dominant, but it aided the team’s 12-4 record and was paced by a star rushing off the edge.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.

Raiders restructure Marshawn Lynch's contract


Raiders restructure Marshawn Lynch's contract

Marshawn Lynch restructured his contract this week, virtually locking him in for the 2018 Raiders season.

The veteran exchanged some base salary for guaranteed funds and an increased incentive package, according to contract details obtained Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

His base salary drops from $4 million to $2.5 million, but becomes guaranteed. None of the funds Lynch had coming in his previous deal were guaranteed. He has a $1 million roster bonus coming on Saturday, just six days after receiving a $1 million roster bonus as required in his old contract.

That essentially guarantees him $4.5 million, as sure a sign as any he’ll be the Raiders feature back. Lynch will lead his position group, with support from veteran addition Doug Martin. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are also on the roster, though it’s uncertain if both guys will remain there this fall.

Lynch can also earn $3.75 million in incentives, a significant increase from the $2 million available in the previous deal.

The Raiders saved $500,000 in salary cap space with the new deal.