The Raiders released veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn, the team announced Saturday afternoon.
Technically speaking, anyway. This transaction came with softer, more respectful phrasing. The Raiders and their longest-tenured player have mutually agreed to part ways.
The move was telegraphed by three things: 1. The Raiders drafted two offensive tackles, including first-rounder Kolton Miller, last year. 2. They paid Trent Brown $36.25 million guaranteed on a four-year deal worth way more if he sees it through. And … 3. The Raiders need to free up some cash after spending heavy through the first week of free agency.
Penn no longer held a prominent place on the depth chart, plus his release saves $5.475 million against the cap and takes $4.5 million in base salary off the books. Penn had $1.75 million in guaranteed money in 2019, though it’s uncertain if that sum held during a discussed parting of ways.
That’s the business end. This cut was handled differently from most, considering Penn’s years of quality service in Silver and Black. He came aboard in 2014 and helped then-rookie quarterback Derek Carr survive a 10-game losing streak to start the season. He had two Pro Bowl seasons with the team and was part of dominant Raiders offensive line during a 2016 playoff season.
That’s why the Raiders rolled out the red carpet for Penn walking out the door. He is not, however, walking into the sunset. He has no plans to retire and wants to return to left tackle after one year on the right. His career will continue, but the Raiders wanted to give him a proper sendoff.
“It is always hard to say goodbye to players that you respect and love both for their on-field efforts and the people that they are off the field,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a team-issued statement. “Donald Penn is another one of those great Raiders who have come into the organization and left an indelible mark on the franchise and the Raider Nation as a whole. He came to Oakland already with a deep passion for Raiders football and served as a leader and example for the team for five memorable seasons.
"Donald will always be a Raider and his presence will be missed by the entire Raiders Family. I wish the absolute best for Donald and his family.”
Penn was involved in the community with his annual Thanksgiving turkey handouts, which gave holiday meals to dozens of needy families in the East Bay. He also sponsored a “shop with a jock” event that provided toys for impoverished children around Christmas.
Penn was an excellent left tackle for years until injuries started to drag him down. He suffered a knee injury that held him out of a playoff game in the 2016 season, and he suffered a foot injury just before 2017 ended.
He still was recovering from the foot ailment when Miller was drafted. Penn was moved to right tackle to clear a path for the young buck, but a groin injury ended his season early. He never returned off IR, and won’t play in silver and black again.
He will play elsewhere, a point made clear in a farewell message to Raiders fans that includes some not-so-subtle hints that he’ll return to left tackle.
“I’ve got a lot of football LEFT!” he wrote.