ARLINGTON, Texas – Donald Penn was driving to a private workout in Los Angeles Wednesday morning, and turned around before he got there. The Raiders left tackle had a conversation with his agent and the realization became clear as day.

It was time to go back. It was time to join his teammates and end a prolonged contract holdout, even without a new deal.

His camp was told one would come if he returned to the Raiders. Faith was strengthened from that. 

Penn turned the car around, got a ride to the airport and headed for Oakland. He arrived just after noon Wednesday. He practiced roughly an hour later and again the next day. Penn went through a walk-through and played Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

Penn obviously wants a raise. That hasn’t changed. There's another side to this, as well. The man missed football. He also missed being with his guys, and wanted to be peak Penn when it matters most.

“I came back for my teammates and my coaches,” Penn said after a 24-20 loss to the Cowboys. “We have a good thing going. I knew that it was Week 3 (of the preseason), and that I needed to get ready for (the regular season). At the end of the day, I have to make sure I’m the best Donald Penn on Sundays for my team and my teammates. That’s why I made the decision to come back.”

General manager Reggie McKenzie said on July 31 he wouldn’t talk contract if a player wasn’t with the team. Well, Penn is back for good. The roadblock to a new deal has been removed. Now Penn hopes to renegotiate his contract before the regular season starts. 


“That’s the plan,” Penn said. “We have a great owner, a good GM. I came in here putting my trust in them. That’s what they told me. I’m going to sit here and wait and control what I can control. That’s trying to get better from what I put out there today.”

Penn is set to make $5.8 million in base salary, with another $750,000 in likely to be earned incentives. He wants far more than that, with original hopes of top-10 offensive tackle money. That would register in eight figures. That seems unlikely, though it’s uncertain what could come back to Penn this year.

Penn is focused on preparing for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Tennessee. He’s unsure whether he’ll play the preseason finale, an exhibition typically populated by bubble players and future cuts.

There’s little doubt he’ll be ready to go against the Titans. He returned in great cardiovascular shape, and will work back into true football condition. That work started this week, and Saturday’s game was a big step toward that end.

“I have some rust I have to knock off, but it felt good to get in the action,” Penn said. “I’m thankful to my coaches for believing in me and allowing me to go in there that fast.

“I was happy with where my conditioning was. You can work out as much as you want when you’re away, but it’s hard to simulate playing football. I was surprised at where I was. I put in a lot of work, and it paid off.”

While he still wants a new deal, Penn’s happy to be back after a long holdout.

“I didn’t want to be gone, but sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t want to do,” Penn said. “I really didn’t want to do it, but it’s something I had to do. I’m happy it’s over with. I’m hopeful we can get some stuff done and get this thing rolling.”