According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, the Oakland Raiders are likely to start the 2018 NFL season without their star defensive player. Khalil Mack, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end, has been holding out of preseason practices and games due to an ongoing contract dispute — and there’s no end in sight.
The Raiders are refusing to offer Mack a contract extension, while the 27-year-old star is seeking a long-term deal that would make him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, behind Von Miller’s current salary of $19 million per year. However, Robinson reports that the two sides haven’t talked “in months” and that Mack’s current position is that the Raiders must either pay him or trade him to another team.
New head coach Jon Gruden apparently has final say over either a contract extension or a trade, although team owner Mark Davis could overrule him. Interestingly enough, Robinson reports that Davis actually does have the money to spend on a new contract, which makes it curious that they don’t want to lock up one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
The regular season begins in two weeks, and unless one (or both) of the sides is willing to make a stunning concession, it appears that the Jon Gruden era will begin without Mack on the sideline. If that happens, it will be a big blow for a team that is trying to shed their losing reputation. They’ve only made the playoffs once in the last 15 years, while Mack has never missed a game and has already tallied 40.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and 231 tackles in just four seasons.