Khalil Mack

Poll: Who Will End Offseason As NFL’s Highest-Paid Defender?

The league’s seen a large number of standout players skip mandatory workouts this week, setting up an eventful stretch despite teams being on break between minicamps and training camps.

The star power from the 2014 draft is driving part of this spree of holdouts, and this summer figures to produce at least one mega-contract for a defender (and likely more). By the time this offseason concludes, the defensive contract landscape will look different. Who will be the league’s new standard-bearer here?

Von Miller‘s held that title for two years, since signing his six-year, $114.6MM extension at the 2016 franchise tag deadline. Multiple stars drafted in the 2014 first round are gunning for contracts that would surpass Miller’s.

Will it be Aaron Donald? Despite playing a position that has not been traditionally compensated as well as Miller’s, Ndamukong Suh‘s 2015 free agency windfall notwithstanding, Donald has been the league’s most dominant interior defender for a bit now. With quarterbacks’ release times steadily accelerating, defenders lined up closer to the ball have seen a change in compensation patterns. Defensive tackles like Fletcher Cox and Kawann Short are each paid more than $16MM annually, and Donald’s operated on a higher level than each during his four-year career.

Holding out for a second straight year, Donald is a key component to a Rams operation that’s taking a more aggressive approach to contention than it did last year. While no deal is imminent, talks will presumably heat up soon. Les Snead‘s already said a Donald resolution will need to involve an NFL-high defender contract, but will other defenders end up with a better deal?

Khalil Mack didn’t follow Donald’s lead and hold out last year, despite both being on the same timeline and the Raiders defensive end beating the Rams defensive tackle to the defensive player of the year throne. Now, Mack’s stayed away from the Raiders throughout the offseason. While the Raiders may be a tad behind the Rams on the preseason hype scale, Mack has been vital to their defense — a perennially shaky unit despite his dominance — and plays the game’s most valuable defensive role.

At 27, Mack is two years younger than Miller. And the cap is now $22MM higher than it was when the Broncos signed their edge-rushing phenom. It stands to reason Mack will sign a more lucrative deal. However, Derek Carr accepted less than market value at $25MM per year to help Oakland be in better position to keep its core together. With that contract on the books, and a situation the Rams do not have to navigate with Jared Goff just yet, will Mack end up just behind Donald in this pursuit? The Raiders also signed Carr in June of last year. Mack signing in June, to conclude a less contentious process than Donald’s, would open the door for Donald to come in and exceed whatever deal the Bay Area parties reach.

What about Jadeveon Clowney? Not as accomplished as the California-dwelling duo, the No. 1 pick in 2014 has become a star in his own right. And at 25, he’s two years younger than both. As injuries have sidetracked J.J. Watt‘s otherworldly career, Clowney’s become one of the league’s best players. The Texans have a history of authorizing this kind of contract — as they did with Watt’s six-year, $100MM pact in 2014 — and have a quarterback at least two years away from an extension.

While Watt’s maladies have clouded his future and made Clowney more indispensable in the process, might Houston be leery of paying league-record money to another injury-prone performer? Clowney is not holding out, but he did not participate in minicamp while recovering from another surgery.

So, which defender will assume Miller’s position? What will it take to finalize such a deal? Will this derby end with a $20MM- or $21MM-per-year contract? Is there a darkhorse player (perhaps the franchise-tagged Demarcus Lawrence?) that could swoop in here? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your view in the comments section!

Examining Key 2018 Holdouts

The 2014 first round produced some of the NFL’s best players, and they comprise part of an extensive group of that skipped minicamp and could well be training camp holdouts. But several other standout players didn’t show for their respective teams’ mandatory workouts either. Here’s a look on where things stand with this absent contingent.

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams: The reigning defensive player of the year is holding out for a second straight summer. He skipped the Rams’ minicamp, as expected, and remains focused on a landscape-changing deal. Both Donald and Khalil Mack are in line to eclipse Von Miller‘s $19MM annual salary, but the California-based franchises may be hesitant to be the first to authorize a $20MM-per-year pact for a defender. However, Les Snead‘s already conceded the Rams will have to finalize a Donald deal that makes him the league’s highest-paid defender. But with the Broncos superstar having signed his extension in a $155MM cap year, it’s likely Donald’s camp — particularly on the heels of a season where the all-world interior defender won DPOY honors after his holdout induced a two-game absence — is targeting a figure well north of Miller’s, with the cap now at $177.2MM.

The Rams see this process unfolding in a less contentious fashion this year, but a Donald deal — one that’s putting other priorities on hold — isn’t imminent.

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: Unlike Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers, this process features no immediate deadline. But Johnson’s contract expires after this season, with no fifth-year option available to the franchise. Johnson and the Cards are engaging in extension discussions, and Steve Keim said this week — as his All-Pro back skipped minicamp — the team looks forward to signing Johnson long-term.

This has not proven to be an acrimonious situation, but Johnson is on a slightly different timetable than Bell. Despite being a fourth-year player compared to Pittsburgh’s All-Pro entering his sixth season, Johnson is a few months older than Bell and will turn 27 in December. However, it may be in his best interests to wait and see what happens with Bell by the July 16 franchise tag extension deadline.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: The NFL’s seen its wide receiver salary landscape shift since Jones signed his extension in August 2015. That contract made Jones the NFL’s highest-paid wideout, but seven receivers have since surpassed him. This includes Sammy Watkins and slot target Jarvis Landry, who respectively signed 2018 deals for $16MM and $15.1MM annually. Atlanta’s top weapon wants a revised contract and skipped OTAs and minicamp, and the Falcons are discussing such an amendment.

Jones has three seasons and minimal guarantees remaining on his deal, which averages $14.25MM per year. The team’s response a Jones camp proposal did not meet with the group’s approval, but the sides continue to negotiate. The 29-year-old pass-catcher said recently he has no intentions of forcing his way out of Atlanta.

Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans: The left tackle is part of the 2014 first-round contingent entering fifth-year option seasons, and he joined some of the group’s higher-profile players in skipping mandatory June workouts. Jon Robinson said upon being informed of Lewan’s impending minicamp absence that the parties are participating in ongoing re-up dialogue, but as recently as late May, no reports indicated this was the case.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Lewan is entering his age-27 season and is now shooting for Nate Solder‘s $15.5MM-AAV standard. That’s $2MM-plus more than any other left tackle makes, and the Giants authorized that contract amid free agency circumstances. This will complicate matters for Lewan and other extension-seeking tackles. Lewan’s option season is set to be worth $9.341MM.

Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders: After not joining Donald in a 2017 holdout, despite being in essentially the same situation, Mack is doing so this year. He has not reported to the Raiders this offseason. The 2016 defensive player of the year saw 2014 draftee teammates Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson sign lucrative extensions, only to see the Raiders put his on hold — mirroring other teams’ processes with ’14 first-rounders — because of the franchise-friendly fifth-year option. Reggie McKenzie‘s maintained the franchise intends to extend Mack in 2018 and said other players’ situations aren’t factoring into these discussions. Though, it’d be hard to believe Donald’s process isn’t impacting Mack’s at all.

The Raiders and Mack weren’t close on terms in April, but both Carr and Jackson signed their extensions in June of last year, perhaps pointing to a near-future resolution. Unlike the Rams, however, the Raiders have a top-tier quarterback salary on their books. That could cause issues elsewhere on the roster. Although, the cap’s perpetual rise negates some of those potential problems.

Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks: Perhaps the most interesting of these situations, the Seahawks have dangled Thomas in trades but expect him to report for training camp. Like Jones, Thomas saw several at his position usurp him in the salary hierarchy since signing an extension. Thomas signed a $10MM-AAV contract to make him the highest-paid safety in 2014. Again in a contract year, he’s threatened a holdout for months and is following through. The Cowboys and Seahawks discussed a draft-weekend deal for the three-time All-Pro. While Dallas balked about sending a second-round pick for the 29-year-old defender, the teams may well revisit these talks.

Either way, Thomas is going to want Eric Berry money ($13MM AAV) on his third contract. With Richard Sherman in San Francisco and Kam Chancellor‘s career in doubt, Thomas is the last remaining member of the Legion of Boom. It’s just uncertain if he’ll finish out his second contract in Seattle or be shipped elsewhere and end that dominant era.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Khalil Mack To Skip Raiders’ Minicamp

The Raiders are not expecting star defensive end Khalil Mack for mandatory minicamp this week, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Mack is staying away from the club as he pushes for a lucrative new contract. 

The absence of Mack, who has averaged 12 sacks per season over the last three years, is likely to be a thorn in the side of new head coach Jon Gruden. The Raiders were supposedly on good terms with the edge rusher, but he is turning up the heat as he pressures the club for an extension.

The Raiders finalized Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson‘s extensions in June of last year, but Mack’s may be more complicated. Aaron Donald and Jadeveon Clowney are the same boat and each could be waiting to see if one of the other 2014 first-rounders sets the market.

We look at Khalil as his own situation,” GM Reggie McKenzie said recently. “We’re not looking at anybody else. We’re just focusing on our guy.”

As it stands, Mack is slated to reach unrestricted free agency following the 2018 season. He’s scheduled to earn $13.846MM, per the terms of his fifth-year option. His deal accounts for nearly 8% of the Raiders’ salary cap, and he is likely seeking a deal that will give him a similar piece of the pie over a six-year span, even as the cap continues to increase.

Barring a new deal, five 4-3 defensive ends will carry a higher cap number than Mack this year: Calais Campbell (Jaguars), Ezekiel Ansah (Lions), Demarcus Lawrence (Cowboys), Olivier Vernon (Giants), and Cameron Jordan (Saints). Last year, Mack graded out as the fifth best edge rusher in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Broncos, Mack

Having traded away a cornerback who was probably a top-three player on their roster, the Chiefs are in need of defensive help after ranking as the No. 30 DVOA unit with Marcus Peters in the fold last season. Although Kansas City signed Anthony Hitchens and Xavier Williams and traded for Kendall Fuller, the two-time defending AFC West champs have needs across their defense. But they lack a first-round pick after trading it to the Bills for the right to select Patrick Mahomes. Brett Veach, whose team’s first pick sits at No. 54, has not ruled out a big move in his first draft as GM.

I think all cards are on the table,” Veach said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. “If there’s that guy who we thought was a top-10 pick and he’s there at 28, we have to be a least prepared and we have to have dialogue throughout this process. That’s why we have to start calling teams now and letting them know that we’re always open for business.”

The Chiefs acquired an extra fourth-round pick this year and a 2019 second-rounder from the Rams for their All-Pro cornerback and a 2018 third-rounder in the Alex Smith swap. The additional selections could be used as ammo in case this sort of scenario arises next weekend.

Here’s the latest from the AFC West:

  • While trading down is a firm option for the Broncos at No. 5, Mike Klis of 9News notes that a member of the Sam Darnold/Saquon Barkley/Bradley Chubb trio remaining on the board would likely mean Denver stays and selects which one is left. Of this troika, Chubb seems like the player who has the best chance of remaining available by that point. Illustrating John Elway‘s interest in locking this position down, the Broncos used a first-round pick on Shane Ray in 2015 with Von Miller in the fold and with DeMarcus Ware having two years left on his deal. Ray and Shaquil Barrett remain under contract through 2018, with the former’s fifth-year option decision looming.
  • Ray’s third season did not go as planned, with an IR stay nullifying a sizable portion of it. After recording eight sacks in 2016, Ray registered one last season. The outside linebacker revealed, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (Twitter link), his playing weight dropped to nearly 220 pounds by season’s end due to Ray’s wrist injury limiting training. He’s back up to 240 now, per Jhabvala.
  • Denver has until May 2 to pick up Ray’s option, which is worth $9.232MM, and the former Missouri pass rusher expects that to happen. “I think that it’s going to get picked up,” Ray said, via Jhabvala (on Twitter). “I think that I’m going to be here, and I’m just looking forward to that opportunity.” Elway said he’s undecided on Ray’s option. He picked up Miller’s in 2014, passed on Sylvester Williams‘ in ’16 and exercised Bradley Roby‘s last year. Even if the Broncos don’t select Chubb, it could come down to a Barrett-or-Ray decision as to whom the team wants to keep alongside Miller long-term.
  • The Raiders and Khalil Mack aren’t particularly close to a deal, despite the parties being on good terms at this point, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair notes. Mack is not expected to show for the Raiders’ pre-draft voluntary minicamp, per Bair, who adds no timetable exists at this point for an extension. The Raiders finalized Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson‘s extensions in June of last year, but Mack’s may be more complicated. Aaron Donald and Jadeveon Clowney are the same boat and each could be waiting to see if one of the other 2014 first-rounders sets the market. “We look at Khalil as his own situation,” Reggie McKenzie said, via Bair. “We’re not looking at anybody else. We’re just focusing on our guy.”

West Notes: Mack, Perryman, Rams

We heard last week that the Raiders and star linebacker Khalil Mack are not close on an extension, and Mack has not yet reported to the team’s offseason workout program. GM Reggie McKenzie, though, remains confident that a new deal will get done, and there does not seem to be any reason to believe otherwise at this point. Scott Bair of NBCSports.com takes a crack at the value of Mack’s next contract, and he suggests that a six-year, $120MM pact (with around $65MM in guarantees) could be in play. He also says the team is unconcerned about Mack’s absence at this point, though the Raiders do want to get a deal in place before training camp.

Now let’s round up a few notes from west division clubs, starting with more out of Oakland:

  • Jared Cook has been mentioned as a potential cap casualty this offseason given that he is owed a $5MM salary and can be cut without any dead money remaining on the books. But Bair does not believe the Raiders will part ways with Cook, though that could change if the team selects a tight end in the early rounds of this month’s draft.
  • The Chargers‘ run defense was the weakest part of an otherwise strong unit in 2017, and with only Denzel Perryman locked in as a starter at linebacker for 2018, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times believes the Bolts could make a play for an LB early on in the draft. If the team does not trade up to select a talent like Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith, Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch should be available when the Chargers are on the clock with the No. 17 overall pick. As Woike notes, the team also needs to decide what it wants to do with Perryman on a long-term basis, as the Miami product is entering the last year of his rookie deal.
  • In a separate piece, Woike suggests that the Chargers could look to bolster their run defense by selecting a defensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft, with Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne being tied to the team in various mocks. Los Angeles has stayed out of the free agent market for linebackers and defensive lineman thus far, and Woike notes that Jay Bromley could be a name to watch if the team cannot fill its DL needs in the draft.
  • One team that decidedly does not need to draft a defensive lineman is the Rams, although Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times said the team could still be on the lookout for DL depth in the later rounds of the draft. Klein notes in a separate piece that the Rams — who will not be on the clock until the third round — do need to address their LB corps. The team has three fourth-round selections and four sixth-round picks, and Klein says Los Angeles will be on the lookout for LBs, especially edge rushers.

West Rumors: Foster, Mack, Vea, Bynes

Reuben Foster is not eligible for the commissioner’s exempt list at this point, Jim Trotter of ESPN.com tweets, so the embattled linebacker would be able to be in attendance on the first day of the 49ers‘ offseason program come Monday. Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area expects Foster to be there (Twitter link), despite circumstances that could well have Foster bound for an ignominious departure after a standout rookie season. Foster will become eligible for the commissioner’s exempt list once the league concludes its investigation into his alleged act of domestic violence — an incident that prompted authorities to charge the 2017 first-round pick with three felonies. Foster could face up to 11 years in prison. Conversely, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) would be surprised if Foster is with his teammates at 49ers headquarters next week, noting he will probably “stay away for a little bit.” Rapoport said he expects the 49ers to quickly waive Foster if, in fact, they learn the 24-year-old defender committed these crimes.

Here’s the latest from some other West-division cities.

  • Khalil Mack has not shown up for the first week of Jon Gruden‘s return to the Raiders, but Reggie McKenzie remains confident a contract agreement will come. “This is going to be a big contract and all sides are trying to make everything work,” McKenzie told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche (via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair). “It’s about the end result. One thing I know is that we love Khalil Mack and we want to make him a Raider for life. We’ll get through all the other stuff. We understand the business part of it. Everybody is aware of everything and nobody is surprised. Everything, on all sides has been positive.” Wyche reports Mack and Gruden have spoken recently, despite the superstar defensive end’s absence, and McKenzie understands Mack may stay away from the team until a deal is completed.
  • Vita Vea is eligible to attend both the Seahawks‘ and 49ers’ local pro days, which do not count against teams’ top-30 visits, but he will instead meet with the Redskins next Wednesday, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets. The mammoth ex-Washington Huskies defensive tackle went to high school in the Bay Area. He’s visited several teams and is a surefire first-round pick.
  • Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes received $1.25MM in guaranteed money via his latest deal with the team, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic notes. Despite a new coaching staff coming in and the Cards set to turn to a 4-3 setup, Bynes signed to stay in Arizona on a three-year deal. The base value of that contract is $5.575MM, per OverTheCap, but it could max out at close to $10MM. Bynes started 19 games for the Lions between the 2015 and ’16 seasons and was a Cardinals starter in just one 2017 contest. But Steve Wilks sees the 28-year-old former UDFA as a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Broncos, Chargers

The Raiders recently released Marquette King following what was described as a personality clash between the veteran punter and new Oakland head coach Jon Gruden, but King says he’s perfectly capable of toning down his act if need be. “You can’t judge me by what you see on TV or social media, and sadly, a lot of people do that,” King tells Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “If those things were an issue, just sit down and tell me. I can be a zombie if you want me to. But everybody knows what they sign up for when they get into professional sports. You know there are going to be ups and downs, and you’ve got to be able to handle them regardless of the situation, with professionalism and a positive attitude.” King has since signed a thee-year pact with the Broncos, and is clearly relishing the opportunity to play against the Raiders twice per season from here on out.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Although the Raiders are reportedly not close to an extension with star pass rusher Khalil Mack, the club expects to reach an agreement before the 2018 campaign gets underway, tweets Trotter. Mack failed to report for the first day of voluntary workouts on Tuesday, but no one inside the Oakland organization is panicking, per Trotter. The fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Mack has averaged 12 sacks per year over the past three seasons and is likely looking for an annual salary in the $20MM range. Mack, 27, is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $13.836MM thanks to his fifth-year option.
  • Several rival teams have told Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com that the Raiders are open to dealing the No. 10 overall selection, and a trade could become all the more likely if a quarterback prospect is still on the board when Oakland’s turn comes. While the draft’s top four signal-callers may well be gone by pick No. 10, second-tier passers such as Lamar Jackson and/or Mason Rudolph could still be available (one AFC executive thinks both will be selected in the top-20, per La Canfora). At that point, the Raiders — who are already set with Derek Carr under center — could collect extra draft capital by moving back a few slots.
  • Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea met with the Chargers on Tuesday, according to Josh Norris of Rotoworld (Twitter link). To this point, Vea has also set up visits with the Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, Buccaneers, and Browns, and is widely viewed as a surefire first-round pick. In Los Angeles, the 6’5″, 340-pound Vea would play in between star pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, and help the Chargers cover for the suspended Corey Liuget. He’d also be considered an eventual replacement for fellow defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who is entering his age-33 campaign.
  • While most mock drafts have the Broncos ending up with a quarterback, running back Saquon Barkley, or guard Quenton Nelson, Mike Klis of 9News argues Denver could consider trading back and hitting other positions. Receiver and corner are still considered areas of need on the Broncos’ roster, so general manager John Elway could conceivably pick up a few extra picks and use his first-rounder on those positions.

Raiders, Khalil Mack Not Close On Extension

Reggie McKenzie has long said he is targeting this offseason for a Khalil Mack extension, and that deal is expected to ensure the top Raiders talent is the NFL’s highest-paid defender. But this process has evidently encountered some turbulence.

Mack did not show for the first day of Jon Gruden‘s offseason program Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). This is out of the ordinary for Mack, who is going into his final year of his rookie contract (via the fifth-year option). And this might be contract-related.

The Raiders and Mack were discussing an extension, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets, adding the team was hoping to get this done quickly. But Gehlken reports the sides are not close on a deal. The Raiders made an offer in February, but that apparently was not a satisfactory proposal for Mack’s camp — now headed by the same agent, Joel Segal, who oversaw Trumaine Johnson playing two seasons on franchise tags.

Oakland finished up crucial contracts for Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson last offseason but, like every other team with a 2014 first-round pick who was in line for a new deal, pushed a Mack re-up to the back-burner because of the fifth-year option. Other than Mike Evans, none of the 2014 first-rounders have signed extensions yet. Mack is one of several star players among that contingent and, in a year when the cap has settled at $177MM, would be in line to not only surpass Von Miller‘s $19MM-AAV agreement (finalized in a $155MM cap year) but become the NFL’s first $20MM-per-year defender.

Since it’s just Day 1 of the offseason program, this is not considered a holdout. But with Mack having not been connected to a holdout like fellow ’14 draftees Aaron Donald or Odell Beckham Jr., it’s a situation to monitor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Have Made Offer To Khalil Mack

The Raiders have made an extension offer to star edge rusher Khalil Mack, according to Vic Tafur of the Atheltic (Twitter link). Mack and his representatives are currently mulling the terms of the deal, per Tafur.Khalil Mack (vertical)

Mack, who turned 27 years old last week, is one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, and has solidified that status by posting 36.5 sacks over the past three seasons. In 2017, Mack put up 10.5 sacks, finished second in the league with 53 pressures, and graded as the NFL’s No. 5 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus. The fifth overall selection in the 2015 draft, Mack has never missed a game during his four-year pro career.

The Raiders have Mack under contract for one more year, and he’ll earn a fully guaranteed base salary of $13.846MM in 2018. While Oakland could conceivably use the franchise tag on Mack in 2019, the club surely prefers to hammer out a long-term deal. General manager Reggie McKenzie recently indicated that a 2018 extension was likely to be arranged.

Mack will likely seek to top fellow AFC West pass rusher Von Miller‘s $19.083MM annual value, and should be fully expected to shoot for a $20MM per year salary on his next contract. For what it’s worth, the Raiders generally prefer to avoid signing bonuses (and in turn, work out contracts that are relatively easy to escape), but Oakland did give quarterback Derek Carr a $12.5MM signing bonus on his recent extension. Whether the Raiders will stick to their typical contract structure, or be amenable to changes given Mack’s talent and importance, is unclear.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Freeman, Broncos, Mack, Eifert

The Broncos have authored one of their worst modern-era stretches over the past five weeks, with now both their offense and defense struggling. John Elway lobbed some criticism at the team he put together.

I think we got a little bit soft. To be dead honest with you, we got a little bit soft,” the Broncos GM said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “We went 4-0 in preseason; we started out 3-1; we get a bye week, and if you exhale in this league, you’re in trouble. To be dead honest with you, I think we exhaled and it’s hard to recover from that.”

However, the seventh-year front office leader offered support for Vance Joseph despite the first-year coach having the Broncos in danger of their first sub-.500 season in seven years. The Broncos’ schedule eases up after the Chiefs-Eagles-Patriots gauntlet, with the Bengals making a trip to Denver in on Sunday, but Joseph may profile as a one-and-done candidate if this pace continues. The Broncos have lost all five games by at least 10 points. Elway threw some cold water on that prospect, though.

There’s going to be growing pains as a head coach, especially as a first-year head coach (and) we got a lot of youth on staff when it comes to coordinators, too,” Elway said. “So there’s growing pains there. Just like with players, we have to give them a chance to grow and get better and learn from certain situations. Vance, in my mind, is doing just fine and continues to get these guys to play hard and the energy is still there. So we’ll work our way through.”

Here’s the latest from around the league going into Week 11 Sunday.

  • Devonta Freeman has been ruled out for Monday night’s Falcons-Seahawks game. This wasn’t a surprise given the star running back’s concussion history. He suffered a second concussion of the season against the Cowboys. Tevin Coleman will start.
  • Reggie McKenzie wants to sign Khalil Mack to an extension next year, and the cornerstone Raiders defender has no problem with that. Mack does not seem interested in exploring a potential path elsewhere down the line. “Of course; that’s not even a question,” Mack said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Fallon Smith, about wanting to stay with the Raiders for the rest of his career. “That’s a no-brainer for me, especially when you think about coming into this organization and try to build something special, that’s something you want to be a part of for a lifetime.” Given his age (26), durability, production history and the fact Von Miller‘s extension occurred during the 2016 league year, Mack is a mortal lock to become a $20MM-per-year defender and surpass his fellow AFC West pass-rushing dynamo in that department. Mack’s under contract through 2018 via fifth-year option.
  • In addition to the back surgery Tyler Eifert underwent, the impending UFA tight end had a knee procedure done recently, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). This was not a major operation, with Graziano noting it was for a cyst that had developed on the Bengals pass-catcher’s knee. Eifert is out for the season and will profile as one of the more interesting UFAs due to his injury history and high-ceiling production when healthy.
  • The Jaguars will be without two starting offensive linemen on Sunday in Cleveland. Both Jermey Parnell and Patrick Omameh are out and didn’t travel with the team to northeast Ohio. This will be Parnell’s second straight absence due to a knee injury. A quadriceps injury will sideline Omameh, who’s worked as Jacksonville’s starting left guard throughout the season. The Jags have 10 offensive linemen on their active roster, so they’re prepared to handle the first-unit cogs’ absences.