Khalil Mack holdout a 'grueling' process for all associated with Raiders

Khalil Mack holdout a 'grueling' process for all associated with Raiders

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders' regular season starts in less than two weeks. Their best player still isn’t in Alameda. Khalil Mack hasn’t been there since January, choosing to withhold services in search of a lucrative contract extension.

He doesn’t have one yet. That prompted him to stay away during voluntary portions of the offseason program, and hold out when he was required to work.

Mack has missed mandatory minicamp, training camp in Napa and three preseason games to this point. Odds of him reporting before Thursday’s exhibition finale are virtually nil.

None of that really matters. If he starts missing regular-season games beginning Sept. 10, all that changes. That’s a big deal for player and team.

The Raiders would take the field without their best player. Mack starts missing game checks. He’s set to play under a fifth-year option worth $13.846 million, and would forfeit $814,470 in salary each week he stays away from the team.

Would Mack report just before the regular season, even without a new contract? That’s uncertain at this point.

Deadlines, however, generate action.

Progress would provide a change in course. After checking in with sources with knowledge of the situation, they continue to say a pact is not close.

Also, the Raiders have no interest in trading Mack at this time. Zero.

Those things have been true for a long time now. The delay has not changed the team’s desire to sign Mack to a contract extension, but there clearly are opposing views of what that deal should pay.

Sources also confirm a New York Daily News report that stated several teams have asked about Mack. Again, the Raiders don’t want to trade him.

Principal players in these talks have kept quiet. General manager Reggie McKenzie hasn’t provided insight on Mack contract talks. Agent Joel Segal hasn’t spoken publicly about this deal. Mack, never one to seek the spotlight, has kept quiet during this period.

Head coach Jon Gruden is frequently asked about Mack, and said Monday he couldn’t predict when his elite edge rusher would report.

“I don’t want to put any timetable on it,” Gruden said. “This has obviously been a long process that has been grueling for both parties and fans and me personally. We’re just hoping we can get him in here.”

Gruden’s right. This process has been a slog. There has been little progress, little information from principal players in the deal and lots of rumors circulating, some from left field.

The wackiest happened Sunday, when a Detroit sports talk radio host, a verified member of the media sporting a blue checkmark, said on Twitter that Mack was in town to speak with Lions GM Bob Quinn.

His source? A limo driver.

At that moment, at 5:48 p.m. on Sunday, the Khalil Mack holdout story jumped the shark.

An online sports book recently put odds on where Mack would play this season, and the Raiders aren’t even the favorite. That in itself is weird, wild stuff.

Despite all the noise, Gruden has said several times that Mack’s holdout hasn’t distracted his team, but admits that Mack is missed.

“His playmaking, his leadership, his presence -- great players, like Mack, have all of those things going for them,” Gruden said. “They make people around them better. They make offenses account for you. If you’re going to account for a Khalil Mack, you probably have to double team the guy and someone else is not going to have to deal with that. So, there are a lot of things that a great player brings to your football team. Hopefully, that’s sometime soon.”

Mack stays away when the Raiders want him here, learning new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme. Mack wants to gain long-term financial security in line with his market value.

The Raiders have some leverage. Mack is under contract, and have franchise tags at their disposal in future seasons. Mack would be expensive playing under the tag, but the Raiders could operate under a pay-as-you-go system for a while. One issue: if Mack continues to play at an All-Pro level, he won’t get any cheaper. The market will go up and, after a while, the franchise tags get a bit too pricey.

That’s why it would ultimately behoove the Raiders to get a deal done now. It would give Mack security he won’t have working on one-year deals.

Left tackle Donald Penn understands what Mack is going through. He held out last preseason in search of a better deal he eventually got. While Mack’s situation is exponentially more complex given the size and scope of a potential deal, Penn can relate to what Mack might be going through. He spoke to Mack recently, got a sense of his mood during this difficult stretch.

“I talked to Khalil right before the Rams game,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “He’s in good spirits. He’s doing good. I’m just looking forward to getting him back. I know he wants to be back. He deserves everything he’s going to get. I’ll be happy for him when he gets it. “

Boo birds chirp as Derek Carr, Raiders offense continues downward slide


Boo birds chirp as Derek Carr, Raiders offense continues downward slide

OAKLAND – The Raiders offense was humming to start Sunday’s game against Tennessee. They found end zones on three of four first-half drives, and entered the break tied with the Titans.

Then the wheels came off. The offense never scored during a disastrous second half featuring four punts, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs following a fourth-and-goal throwaway. Things never got better in another terrible result ending with a 42-21 loss to the Titans at Oakland Coliseum.

The tide turned in the third quarter, after consecutive, fruitless three-and-outs. After the second one, boo birds came out. They were chirping a bit before that, but voiced displeasure in unison. Fans were frustrated with the offense and seemed bothered most by Derek Carr’s play in particular at that point.

They didn’t like the optics of Carr tossing a pass out of bounds on fourth down, even with time winding down and the game out of reach.

Home fans have booed Carr before. They can be short-tempered, especially when things aren’t going right.

Carr put the boos in perspective, and therefore didn’t take them personally after a third-straight blowout loss.

“It’s happened before. You play here long enough and that will occur,” Carr said. “We have a rowdy group and that’s why we love them. They’re passionate, and they just want to win. It’s just like family. Even when they’re mad at you, they still want to hug you. They still want you to do well. I understand that frustration. I think I showed some emotion, too. I don’t think anything of it. It has happened for six years.”

Carr’s final line looks pretty nice. He completed 25-of-34 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, good for a 115.2 passer rating. The outcome and second-half fade didn’t feel quite as good, but the Raiders were proud of their quarterback’s effort in a third consecutive blowout loss.

“I think he played really well today, Carr did, given what’s going on around him,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “I think there’s a big story there. At least we recognize it. We’re really proud of the way he’s competing and performing with all the moving pieces.”

Gruden’s referring to the offensive injuries piling up over the last few weeks, with a list of key players sidelined for Sunday’s game. Running back Josh Jacobs finally succumbed to a shoulder injury after playing through it since Week 7. Right tackle Trent Brown is down with a pectoral injury. Receiver Hunter Renfrow is down another game at least with rib injuries and a punctured lung. Foster Moreau suffered a knee injury in this one and might be done for the year. That’s another huge blow to the offense, and it’s surely impacting execution and an ability to sustain drives.

Carr didn’t want to hear that and didn’t want injury setbacks to excuse poor play.

“This game is next man up,” Carr said. “Nobody cares about our situation. Nobody cares who is playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here. The people who have played this position, played that. I have learned that in my six years. Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game and it is what it is.”

The Raiders haven’t won since Nov. 17, when they beat the Bengals at home. They have been outscored 116-33 since. It sure seems like the Raiders have run out of gas down the stretch, unable to perform to earlier levels due to attrition and lack of execution. They can look good in spurts – take the first half versus Tennessee for example – but can’t sustain it.

The Raiders have struggled on both sides of the ball and have hit a rough patch they might not leave before the season’s out.

“We’re a tight football team that is competing hard,” Gruden said. “We’re missing some of the players that helped us win those three straight games. The Golden State Warriors are going through a similar process. It’s not as easy to win when you’re not playing with your frontline guys. It works out for the development of some young players, but it’s on me. It’s my responsibility to fix it and it certainly doesn’t look good the last few weeks.”

Why Gruden wasn't mad about Derek Carr's throw away on fourth-and-goal


Why Gruden wasn't mad about Derek Carr's throw away on fourth-and-goal

OAKLAND -- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr hung in the pocket one second after another surveying and surveying and surveying some more, waiting in vain for someone to come free. He moved slightly to his left and then rolled back right, with Derek Carrier and Zay Jones running parallel with him.

Neither guy was open, so Carr eventually elected to throw it away.

That’s when the boos came. It was to be expected, considering the concession came on fourth-and-goal from the 1. That wasn’t a major moment. The Raiders were down three scores late in the game. That play’s outcome wouldn’t have mattered much either way.

It was, however, essentially still a tap out. Carr could've given Jones or Carrier a chance to make a play but didn't. At minimum, the optics weren't great. Ultimately, however, head coach Jon Gruden wasn’t upset over that play’s result.

“I think he kept the play alive for like 12 seconds. It wasn’t like he just aborted the ball,” Gruden said. “He exhausted that play for what it was. I’m not going to stand here and say that was a turning point in the game.”

Carr didn’t have anybody open and bought time, but didn’t try to force it anywhere when nobody was open and he ran out of real estate heading toward the sideline.

[RELATED: What we learned in Raiders' deflating 42-21 loss to Titans]

“They put us into a scramble drill,” Carr said. “I tried to extend the play in the pocket, like we’ve been working on. I tried to find somebody in the pocket and then as soon as they got close I tried to extend it outside the pocket. I promise you I wrung out the whole [towel] on that one.

“There were seven defensive backs looking at me, waiting for the ball. It is what it is.”