When new Raiders coach Jon Gruden opened his team’s offseason program Monday, there was one conspicuous absence.
Defensive end Khalil Mack, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, did not participate.
These Phase I workouts are voluntary, and the program at this point mostly consists of conditioning and meetings. But Mack’s non-attendance is not all that unexpected given that Oakland’s best defensive player is still waiting for a contract extension.
Mack is entering the final season of his five-year rookie deal, which will pay him nearly $14 million in 2018. General manager Reggie McKenzie has long said one of his primary goals this offseason is to work out a new deal with Mack, who could hit the free-agent market after this season if Oakland can’t work out a new deal.
“Make no bones about it,” said McKenzie recently. “We want Kahlil to be a Raider.”
Kevin Patra of NFL.com noted Monday that Mack’s absence isn’t a warning sign that the two sides can’t get something done soon and Raiders fans have nothing “to fret over.” The Raiders could also put the franchise tag on Mack after this season to keep him in silver and black.
“Skipping voluntary workouts in which players aren’t hitting the field is sometimes part of the negotiating process,” wrote Patra. “With the Raiders able to wield the franchise tag two years beyond 2018, Mack isn’t leaving Gruden’s club anytime soon.”
As Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group noted, the first time Mack will have to report is for mandatory minicamp that will be held June 12-14. Last year, wrote McDonald, the Raiders didn’t work out a contract extension for quarterback Derek Carr until June 22.