ALAMEDA – Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack will never hit free agency. No way, no how.
The reigning defensive player of the year is a generational talent. You don’t let those guys walk out the front door.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has no intention, and plans to lock Mack up long term well before his contract expires. The Raiders exercised the 2014 first-round pick’s fifth-year team option, putting him in line for a $13.8 million base salary in 2018.
He’s expected to make a lot more than that next season. McKenzie reiterated the Raiders’ plan to negotiate a long-term extension with Mack this offseason.
“I anticipate that. Yes, I do,” McKenzie said. “Hopefully his agent feels the same.”
Mack’s new deal is Phase II of the Raiders long-term extension plan for the 2014 draft class.
They gave second-round quarterback Derek Carr a massive contract in June. Third-round right guard Gabe Jackson got a big deal later that month.
Those deals were more pressing for members of the 2014 draft class entering a contract year. Mack’s fifth-year option, afforded only to first-round picks, gave the Raiders some breathing room.
Mack obviously wanted to get paid earlier. Who wouldn’t? Aaron Donald, another elite first-round defender from the 2014 draft class, held out this summer and reported without a new contract.
There's not much leverage this early in the process. Mack reported on time, as expected.
His patience should be rewarded, because waiting a year should only increase the market.
The Raiders have made it clear to Mack they want an extension way before a deadline, during this next offseason. Mack’s people will certainly demand top dollar, with a realistic shot to set the market for edge rushers and defensive players in general.
The team doesn't want to reach a point where they have to use a franchise tag before the 2019 season. That isn’t expected. As McKenzie said, a deal is anticipated this offseason.
Von Miller and Justin Houston signed nine-figure contract with significant guarantees. Mack has the talent, work ethic and production required to top them both. Time will tell how big a deal Mack will get, but one is coming in time.
The Raiders have worked the salary cap and their cash flow to provide windows to sign important pieces of a young foundation.