McKenzie anticipates Mack extension in offseason: ‘Hopefully his agent feels the same’


McKenzie anticipates Mack extension in offseason: ‘Hopefully his agent feels the same’

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.

Former Raiders interim head coach, 49ers assistant Tony Sparano dies


Former Raiders interim head coach, 49ers assistant Tony Sparano dies

Former Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano died unexpectedly on Sunday morning. He was 56.

The Minnesota Vikings announced his passing, though an exact cause of death is unknown.

He was the Vikings offensive line coach, a position he held since 2016. Sparano had been an NFL coach for nearly two decades, with stints in Oakland and San Francisco. He was also Miami's head coach from 2008-11.

He was hired to run the Raiders offensive line in 2013, and was promoted to interim head coach after Dennis Allen was fired four games into the 2014 campaign.

Sparano showed well in that role, kept the team playing hard during a difficult 3-13 season and nearly had the interim tag removed. He was a finalist for 2015 head coaching job, though Jack Del Rio ultimately got the job.

He left the organization then, and spent the 2015 season as 49ers tight ends coach. He ended up in Minnesota after that.

Sparano helped the Raiders finished 2014 with a three wins over their final six games, which started an upward trend that carried through 2016. He also remained patient with then-rookie starter Derek Carr.

Left tackle Donald Penn joined the Raiders in 2014, and experienced a career renaissance that season under Sparano.

The Silver and Black mourned Sparano's loss.

"The Raiders family was deeply saddened to learn of Tony Sparano's passing this morning," the team said in a statement. "Tony had a deep passion for football and was embraced by the Raider Nation during his time with the Silver and Black. Tony will be sadly missed by the entire NFL community. Our hearts are with (his wife) Jeanette and the Sparano family during this extremely difficult time."

The 49ers also paid respects to the longtime NFL coach.

“The 49ers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Tony Sparano,” the 49ers said in a statement. “We share our heartfelt condolences with the Sparano family and the Minnesota Vikings.”

Sparano is survived by his wife Jeanette, their three children and four grandchildren.

Jon Gruden gets Raiders fans ready for training camp with party


Jon Gruden gets Raiders fans ready for training camp with party

To celebrate his return to the sideline, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden threw a party for fans on Friday at Ricky's Sports Theatre and Grill in San Leandro.  

Raider Nation showed up in droves. 

In all, over 500 fans showed up, according to a Ricky's spokesperson.

"We are honored to be a part of the love story between Jon Gruden and this fan base," the spokesperson said. "It's incredibly special. And the significance of this event, at this time, is not lost on us."

The Raiders, Gruden, and Ricky's all collaborated on the event, which came together because of Gruden's relationship with Ricky's owners, Ricky and Tina Ricardo. Gruden paid for the catering and entertainment himself, according to the spokesperson. 

Plenty of Raiders alumni attended, including Cliff Branch and Lester Hayes, according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. Branch even took the mic and made a guarantee. 

Gruden broke in as an NFL head coach with the Raiders in 1998, and coached Oakland for four seasons. It was in Oakland where Gruden was first given the nickname "Chucky," after the murderous puppet in the Child's Play film franchise. Gruden paid tribute to those roots at Ricky's with a... creative autograph signing. 

Raiders training camp begins on July 27. Whether or not the team will be joined by its best defensive player remains to be seen. 

Star defensive end Khalil Mack skipped the team's mandatory minicamp in June in pursuit of a new contract. Gruden told fans on Friday that the team will "find a way" to bring Mack back.