By Adam Hatlan
The Khalil Mack saga continues.
Mack, set to enter his fifth season and seeking a contract extension, remains a holdout from the Oakland Raiders training camp. Mack is slated to make $13.486 million this year as part of his fifth-year option the Raiders picked up in April of 2017.
But now Mack is upset. Why? Well, after watching teammates Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson, both from the same draft class as Mack, receive lucrative contract extensions in June of 2017 (just seven days apart mind you), Mack is wondering why the Raiders haven’t given him the payday he feels he deserves.
Mack, 27, won Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 after posting 73 total tackles, 10 sacks, 13 QB hits, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and a pick-six. Oh, and don’t forget about his absurd 74 QB hurries from that year. On top of that fantastic 2016 season, Mack has posted double-digit sacks over the last three seasons, including a career high 15 in 2015. Mack is an elite player, he’s young, and he’s a game changer on the defensive side of the ball. It’s no wonder he wants to get paid.
Mack is said to be looking somewhere in the $22 million annual range, which would not only make him the highest paid edge rusher in the NFL, but the highest paid defensive player overall.
This is where the Packers come in.
There has been chatter lately, albeit hypothetical, that the Packers would be a good fit for Mack should he get traded. Vegas even gave the Packers the second-best odds of having Mack on their roster next season.
Mack would bring an Aaron Rodgers-type talent to the defensive side of the ball and give the Packers defense an instant game-changer. With all the young guys they have invested in the secondary, Mack would bring this defense to a whole new level.
The Packers have two first round picks in next year’s NFL draft, currently the only team sitting with more than one. Granted, the other pick is New Orleans’ pick, who have a very good chance to make the playoffs. Couple that with the Packers’ pick, and both picks could potentially be lower than 20. My point is, first round picks of any kind have value, so having two could provide some good firepower to help spark a deal with the Raiders.
Green Bay currently has just under $7 million in cap space, so they would have to make room for Mack’s $13.486 million salary. The Raiders would probably want someone in return who they could plug in and play now.
Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are the names the immediately come to my mind as trade options, just for the sheer fact that they could replace Mack’s spot on the Oakland roster. Matthews is in the final year of his deal, but is 32 years old, so age could be a deterrent for Oakland. Perry, on the other hand, is only 28. He is in the second year of a five year, $60 million extension he signed in March 2017. That contract would be more manageable for the Raiders to absorb than the $22 million annually Mack is looking for.
The best scenario, in my opinion, is the Packers trade for Mack and give up Nick Perry along with one of those two first round draft picks, their second rounder for 2019, and a late round pick in 2019. Mack will want to get paid, but Green Bay could give him the extension he wants with the newfound cap space to take care of this year, and they could back-load the rest of the deal. Next year the Packers are projected to have $33 million in cap space, per Spotrac, and $83 million in 2020. Obviously, Aaron Rodgers has yet to sign his extension, which will eat a good chunk of that cap. All in all, the future cap looks bright for Green Bay, and there would be room for Mack to sign the mega deal he wants.
When all is said and done, Mack will probably still be wearing Black and Silver next year. A deal will likely get done, Mack and the front office and the fans will be happy, and Mack will be a rich man.
All I know is this: the longer this holdout lasts, the worse his relationship becomes with his teammates, the front office, and his new head coach. And with that, the closer he gets to becoming a Green Bay Packer.