The Oakland Raiders entered the 2017 training camp with high expectations in place, while abiding by head coach Jack Del Rio’s professionalism and business-like mentality. However, the Raiders received some unfortunate news when left tackle Donald Penn decided to hold out of training camp.
Penn, coming off a Pro-Bowl season, entered the final year of his contract, with $7 million left on his deal. The 10-year veteran, who hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season, alerted the Raiders about his situation and told the team he was unhappy with his contract situation.
After only allowing one sack last season, albeit a costly one, Penn made his intentions clear. He will continue to hold out until they can reach an agreement. Raiders legend Charles Woodson, in an interview with Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News, stated that he understands Penn’s frustration and is encouraging his situation towards a solution:
I think he’ll end up getting a new deal. I’m a firm believer that you’ve got to strike the iron while it’s hot. You only have a short amount of time to play this game, he is getting up there in age as it relates to the NFL. I’m pretty sure how he’s thinking is it’s probably his last shot at another deal before his time in the NFL runs out.
A key component towards Penn’s contract situation is the response by general manager Reggie McKenzie. After releasing offensive lineman Austin Howard, the Raiders were able to free up $5 million in cap space. While some of that money could go towards Penn, McKenzie stated he wouldn’t discuss a deal unless Penn comes to camp.
However, Penn’s argument towards a raise does have some merit. The AFC West is one of, if not the best, pass-rushing divisions in all of football. Penn, who graded as a top-ten left tackle, wants to be paid like one. Especially with the recent contract for Gabe Jackson, the Raiders have invested $62 million towards Jackson, Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson.
Woodson, a Raiders legend, understands the negotiating process involved with the NFL. During that interview, Woodson stated that every NFL player should try to get as much money as they can, especially with Penn slated towards his final pay day entering his 11th NFL season. The Raiders, in somewhat of a Super Bowl of bust season, need their full compliment of players going into the preseason, to display that team unity that lead the resurgence of the franchise.