As Raider Nation is keenly aware, highly lauded Oakland Raiders’ left tackle Donald Penn has chosen to “boycott” the team’s training camp for a pay raise as he has expressed disappointment with his current salary and feels he should be paid as a premier NFL tackle should.
Penn has proven himself to be one of the most loyal and hardworking members of the Raider’s organization. To his credit, Penn has never missed a game for the Raiders and last year only allowed one sack. Sadly, that one sack put quarterback Derek Carr out of commission leading to an early playoff exit afterward for the team.
After learning the news that Penn was sitting out camp for a higher salary, many pundits said, “Pay the man. He deserves it”. The overriding concern though, is that if the Raiders decide to pay Penn the 10 million a year that he’s asking for, what does that mean for the rest of the team? Does that mean that whenever a player feels he is “worth more,” that he can just withhold his services and get a big bump?
His career in Tampa Bay was solid but not stellar before he joined the Silver and Black. He was signed by the Raiders on March 18, 2014, to a two-year $9.6 million dollar contract. Last year, his contract was renegotiated, and in March of 2016, Penn inked a two-year, $14 million dollar deal to remain a Raider. The word is that “he’s unhappy” now with that contract, perhaps seeing his fellow offensive linemen ink much bigger contracts than his own didn’t help either?
As much as it would be tempting to just “give him the money,” one must recognize that football is a business! Teams have salary caps that they must abide by and the Raiders have some huge salary adjustments coming up in the next few years; think Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. General manager Reggie McKenzie and Raider’s management cannot just pay every player what he wants, regardless of whether or not they are worth it.
Let’s face it; Penn is underpaid when one looks at his production and work compared to other left tackles in the league. We can all agree on that. We can also all agree that we fancy Penn protecting Carr’s blind side this season. However, we must also question the motives of a man, who less than eight months ago signed a new deal and was happy with it. Why is Penn now wanting to renege on an agreement that he and his agent agreed to? Nothing happened in the off-season to make Penn any more valuable than he was when he signed the deal in March.
So where does that leave us? Will the Raiders renegotiate Penn’s contract? They will and they should. However, Donald needs to return to camp. Also, the Raiders need to structure the deal in such a way that it leaves no place for doubt that “holding out” on camp will be tolerated in the future though let’s face it; it’s commonplace for these things to occur, unfortunately.
It is not exactly obvious how McKenzie can accomplish such a task; placating Penn and sending the message that holdouts will not result in an immediate pay raise will be tricky, to say the least. However, that’s why he is considered one the best general managers in the league. If anyone can pull this off, Reggie can.