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Maybe the Raiders should trade Khalil Mack

Raiders coach Jon Gruden made some comments that appeared to throw shade at Kahlil Mack, who is not in camp yet, and Mike Florio says Gruden needs to clarify them quickly.

On Monday’s PFT Live, former Jon Gruden pupil Chris Simms predicted that Gruden eventually will snap regarding the Khalil Mack holdout, insisting that the Raiders do whatever it takes to sign their best defensive player to a long-term deal, ending his holdout. While that may eventually happen, Gruden went in a different direction on Monday.

Gruden opted to suggest that Mack isn’t much of a difference maker because his presence didn’t make much of a difference last year on the team’s subpar defense. That likely won’t do much to mend fences between Mack and the Raiders.

The comments from Gruden come after defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who previously called Mack a “centerpiece” of the defense, said that Mack has “a lot of catching up to do.” Gruden’s statements also follow his vow to fans that he’ll “find a way to get Khalil Mack back.”

So what’s really going on here? Some wonder whether the Raiders have the financial wherewithal to give Mack the contract he deserves, opting instead to string it out on a year-to-year arrangement. If the team can’t afford to give Mack the kind of guaranteed money necessary to sign him to a long-term deal, and if Gruden will be dealing with that reality by indirectly downplaying Mack’s value to the team, the Raiders should simply trade Mack to a team that can and will pay him what he’s worth.

And, yes, that same mindset also applies to the Rams and holdout defensive tackle Aaron Donald. However, no one is doubting owner Stan Kroenke’s ability to pay Donald. The question with the Rams is whether they want to pay him. For the Raiders, it’s fair to first wonder whether they can.

If that’s truly the impediment, it won’t matter when Gruden gets to the end of his rope and demands that Mack be paid. Which means that the best move would be to simply move Mack to a team that can and will pay him what he’s worth.