ALAMEDA -- Khalil Mack isn’t in the Bay Area, wasn’t present Tuesday to begin the Raiders’ mandatory minicamp, and isn’t expected for any part of the three-day session.
That decision’s part of Mack’s decision to skip the team’s offseason program while waiting for a big-money contract extension. He missed the strength and conditioning workouts and OTAs. Those sessions were voluntary.
This minicamp is not. The offseason program’s capper is mandatory, which officially makes Mack a holdout.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden isn't thrilled about it, but he isn't losing sleep over Mack missing three practices in June. He would, however, love to see him working in Paul Guenther's defense.
"One of the big reasons I came here was to coach that man," Gruden said Tuesday afternoon. "I don’t want to speculate. There are several guys around the league in similar situations. We’re trying to resolve it as soon as possible and, in the meantime, coach the players that are here."
The Raiders can fine him for missing the entire minicamp, though fines are levied at team discretion and can be erased down the line if they are given.
While Gruden wouldn't discuss whether the Raiders would fine Mack, such financial penalties won’t be a significant issue for either side. Mack and the Raiders want to work out a contract extension this offseason. Total compensation is obviously the sticking point. Mack could easily set the market for defensive players. NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche said earlier this offseason he was looking for $65 million guaranteed – Von Miller got $70 million guaranteed from Denver two years ago – on what could be a nine-figure contract.
The Raiders budgeted for Mack’s big payday, but are trying to find a balance and way to pay him, quarterback Derek Carr and several high-priced offensive lineman while maintaining a level of future financial flexibility under the salary cap.
Mack is currently under contract, set to make $13.84 million under a fifth-year team option available for first-round draft picks. It if fully guaranteed.
Mack doesn’t want to risk injury in an offseason practice. If he suffers a serious injury, the mega deal could vanish before his eyes.
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is in a similar position, choosing to skip offseason work looking for a new deal. The first player in this pair to sign could set a market the other could exceed, creating a slow play that might impact the timing of both deals.
The Raiders hope Mack signs before training camp starts in late July. Both Carr and right guard Gabe Jackson signed in the dead period between the offseason program and training camp.
It’s uncertain if Mack’s deal will get done in time. While he hasn’t been part of the Raiders offseason program under new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, there’s no doubt he remains in excellent shape. Guenther said he’ll have a plan to catch Mack up once he arrives, especially after missing so much scheme installation. Mack’s absence isn’t a serious concern at this stage, but that could change if the stalemate carries well into training camp.
His presence is missed by teammates, but they know prime Khalil Mack will be ready when he returns.
"He’s taking care of his situation, and we respect it," safety Karl Joseph said. "The other guys have done a good job learning the system, but you can’t replace a guy like Khalil. When he’s ready to come back, we’ll be ready for him."