Raiders left tackle Donald Penn is holding out as he seeks a raise that would make him one of the NFL’s 10 highest-paid players at his position. Commenting on Penn’s status Tuesday, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie suggested to reporters that the lineman’s wish definitely won’t come true if he doesn’t report to training camp.
“We don’t talk contracts unless a guy is here,” said McKenzie, via Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group.
Penn, 34, is halfway into the two-year, $14MM contract the Raiders gave the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder upon re-signing him in March 2016. With age serving as the only real check against Penn, it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve more money. Few tackles are able to mix durability and excellence like Penn, who has never missed a regular-season game during his 10-year career and has typically earned high marks as a blocker. Penn posted his ninth straight 16-start campaign in 2016, when his performance graded 12th among 76 qualified tackles at Pro Football Focus.
To this point, the Raiders have not fined Penn any money for missing camp, according to McDonald. They’re allowed to dock him $40K per day as long as he holds out, and doing so could hasten Penn’s return. Still, that’s a relatively meager amount compared to Penn’s $5.8MM salary for 2017, and he’d nearly double that sum by breaking into the top 10 in pay among left tackles. At $11.25MM per year, the Rams’ Andrew Whitworth is 10th in annual value.
With Penn away, the Raiders have turned to Marshall Newhouse on the blindside and used Vadal Alexander at right tackle, and two rookies – fourth-round pick David Sharpe and seventh-rounder Jylan Ware – are in reserve. The only member of the group with substantial NFL experience is Newhouse, who joined the Raiders in free agency after combining for 86 appearances and 56 starts as a Packer, Bengal and Giant from 2011-16. Nobody would confuse him for Penn, though, given that Newhouse hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2012 and most recently ranked a below-average 50th among tackles at PFF last year. Alexander earned an even worse grade over nine games (five starts) and 305 snaps as a rookie in 2016.
Given that the Raiders’ outlook at tackle without Penn looks somewhat bleak, McKenzie unsurprisingly indicated that the Super Bowl hopefuls want him back.
“Donald’s my guy. Ever since he stepped in, after we lost (Jared Veldheer), I told him he’s my guy,” said McKenzie. “That’s not going to change. I’d love to have him, and if you guys go down to L.A. and drive him up I’d appreciate it. We want to focus on the young guys practicing now, get these guys some reps and we’re just going to keep moving. We’ve got to practice.”
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