The move is a curious one for a few reasons. First, the Raiders’ season has been long over – at 2-10, winning will only serve to push the Raiders from the top of the draft order in April. Penn, meanwhile, may be a cap casualty candidate and a serious injury could leave the Raiders on the hook for his entire salary in 2019. As it stands, only $1.750MM of his 2019 income is guaranteed.
Also, by designating Penn for return, the Raiders are eliminating the possibility of Marshawn Lynch seeing the field again in 2018. The Raiders already burned one IR-DTR spot on defensive tackle Justin Ellis, so Lynch is now barred from playing in the club’s Christmas Eve home finale against the Broncos.
Penn appeared in 14 games for the Raiders last season, the first time in his career that he failed to appear in all 16 regular season contests. Pro Football Focus ranked him 23rd among eligible tackles, proving that the veteran still has something left in the tank. In his limited sample of four games this season, PFF gave him a putrid 47.0 overall score.
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