It’s not often that a player sits out training camp because he’s unhappy with his contract. Voluntary offseason workouts, sure, and the occasional mandatory minicamp, but training camp is a different level.
For one thing, a fair number of players report to camp because whether their situation has been resolved or not, they want to play and/or fear losing the contract they do have. For another, there’s a potentially significant monetary punishment that can be imposed for missing camp days.
But a handful of stars are taking that step this week.
Khalil Mack won’t be with Oakland
The latest player to do so is Oakland Raiders standout Khalil Mack, who won’t be joining his teammates and coaches in Napa, Calif. on Thursday. It’s not really a surprise, however, as Mack has stayed away from the team all offseason, including mini-camp.
Mack is the fifth player who will not be heading to camp, joining the Falcons’ Julio Jones, Seattle’s Earl Thomas, the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, and the Rams’ Aaron Donald.
Mack is headed into the fifth-year option of his rookie contract; the fifth overall pick in 2014, in 2015 he was the first player to be chosen first-team All-Pro at two positions (defensive end and outside linebacker).
Because he’s headed into his option year, Mack is slated to earn $13.8 million, all in base salary, this season. But he has nothing beyond that at this point and vastly outplayed his initial four year, $18.7 million deal.
Sides far apart on deal
While coach Jon Gruden knows he needs to have Mack on the field – he told the crowd at a fan event last Saturday, “We’re going to find a way to get Khalil Mack back” – there’s no telling when it might happen.
Defensive ends Ezekiel Ansah of Detroit and Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence are both playing this season on the franchise tag, meaning the salary for each is $17.1 million. The next-highest paid defensive end in the NFL is Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell, with a $15 million base this year.
Campbell signed a four-year, $60 million free agent contract with the Jaguars last year.
Mack back in Buffalo
While the Raiders are readying to assemble in Napa, Mack was in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday, where he rose to stardom with the University of Buffalo, working out with current players:
— 2LegitAthPerformance (@legit_athletic) July 24, 2018