The 2018 NFL Offseason has officially begun. Teams with new head coaches are allowed to begin their offseason program earlier than those with returning head coaches. The Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears opted to begin their programs last week while the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans kick things off today.
Normally, there wouldn’t be much news here. Phase I of the official offseason program is “limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.” The teams with new head coaches are allowed an extra voluntary veteran minicamp though. Those voluntary camps next week are what push their Phase I beginning dates up a week or two.
So it is today that contracted players for those five teams with new head coaches that start their offseason program today showed up to work out and begin the road to Super Bowl LIII in earnest.
Well, not every player.
Raiders OLB Khalil Mack was a no-show today for new Head Coach Jon Gruden.
Mack, much like Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald, has earned a massive contract extension beyond the fifth-year option the team has applied to him for 2018. Mack, much like Donald, has yet to sign said contract extension.
ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez talked about the relationship between Mack’s extension and Donald’s back in January:
Another important domino could be Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, who might need to sign his deal before the Rams and Donald’s representatives can get serious about their own extension.
Donald’s representatives at CAA would probably lean toward waiting to see if Mack’s rep, Joel Segal, will set the market first, which is at least part of the reason a deal was never completed last year.
Last year, it was Donald holding out to try and gain some leverage back from the Rams who paid Donald less than $2m last year and will pay him less than $7m this year well below the $20m+ level the open market would provide him. A franchise tag next year would still save the Rams significant money compared to the market.
This year, it’s Mack sitting out though he’s making much more money than Donald having been picked 5th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft while Donald went 13th. Still, he’s left to miss out on millions of dollars he’d otherwise earn were the CBA not so prohibitive against young stars taken in the first round of drafts.
The relationship between these two stars has been one of intrigue since they were drafted. As both have evolved into two of the best players in the entire NFL, that relationship has taken on more impact. And as two stars with huge fan bases in Los Angeles with massive contract extensions looming, it has become headline fodder last offseason and now this year.
Keep an eye on the developments in Oakland with regard to Mack’s contract. It may help decide what happens with respect to the Rams and Aaron Donald in a major, major way.