For the past four seasons, Donald Penn has been the foundation piece of the Raiders’ offensive line at left tackle.
He’s missed just two games during that span and twice been selected to the Pro Bowl. He’s also a leader of what some believe is one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, along with left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and – presumably – this year’s No. 1 pick Kolton Miller at right tackle.
But at 35 and with a hefty contract that is set to pay him about $8.3 million this season and $10.3 million in 2019, does Penn go into this training camp with a target on his back?
Despite having a long relationship with new head coach Jon Gruden – for whom he played in Tampa Bay – Penn could be one key Raider in danger of not making the opening day roster, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. In fact, Rosenthal lists Penn at the top of his list in a story published Monday with the headline, “NFL training camp cuts? Notable guys on roster bubble.”
Writes Rosenthal: “Then-Bucs coach Jon Gruden signed Penn as an undrafted free agent more than a decade ago. It would be on brand for Gruden, who was quietly ruthless with personnel decisions in Tampa, to make letting go of Penn one of his first big moves in Oakland.
“The drafting of Kolton Miller in the first round was the first ominous sign. Gruden’s decision to keep Miller at left tackle during offseason practices, rather than moving him to the right side, was another one. While Gruden has insisted the arrival of Miller has nothing to do with Penn, the 35-year-old is coming off Lisfranc foot surgery. The guaranteed money in his contract ($3 million of his $6 million base salary) should help Penn make the team, but he has to prove he’s healthy first.”
Though Miller is getting the most attention as a possible Penn replacement, two other young players could work their way into the lineup either on the right or left side at tackle. David Sharpe, drafted in 2017, and Brandon Parker, a third-round pick this year, will be in competition for a job, along with veterans Vadal Alexander and Breno Giacomini.
Players are set to report to training camp Thursday.