Khalil Mack didn't show up to work today.
He was contractually obligated to be at the Raiders' mandatory minicamp, which started Tuesday, but Mack made the decision to not attend in an effort to coax a new contract from the team.
Mack is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which is set to pay him $13.9 million in 2018. He's looking for a deal that would make him one of the NFL's highest-paid players – a deal that's in line with the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year's reputation and production.
Mack previously skipped voluntary offseason workouts, but, as the name suggests, those weren't truly mandatory to attend. Now that Mack is missing mandatory team activities, he's officially holding out and the Raiders can fine him for truancy.
But fining Mack won't bring him back into the fold anytime soon, as there's ample evidence to suggest that the All-Pro defensive end is willing to hold out until August – a period that would include the start of training camp – if he doesn't get a new deal.
The holdout has received preemptive backlash from Raiders fans and coaches, with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther saying earlier this month that Mack will "have a lot of catching up to do."
But any hand-wringing over Mack's holdout is wasted energy, because until teams need to trim their rosters to 75 men, the holdout is inconsequential.
I have three reasons for you:
1. Mack plays a plug-and-play position
Guenther might be concerned about Mack getting up to speed with the Raiders' new defense, but, frankly, that's a lame scare tactic that he didn't need to practice.
Yes, Mack is behind when it comes to the new defense, but he'll need 72 hours (maybe 48 – I don't know) to be ready for the start of the season.
Professional football is far more complicated than the average fan believes, but Mack's role in Guenter's 4-3 defense might be the exception to that truth.
While Mack was a rover in the Raiders' previous defensive scheme, which had a hybrid front that used edge rushers as a keystone – sometimes creating a traditional four-man front, sometimes playing outside linebacker, sometimes setting an edge, sometimes rushing the quarterback – Mack's defensive end role in Guenther's 4-3 system couldn't be easier: go hit the guy who has the ball.
Yes, it's slightly more complicated than that, but not by much. I doubt Mack is asked to set an edge all season. One of the main reasons Guenther was hired was because his system would better utilize Mack's prodigious skills, and the way it'll do that is by giving him one job that he can do as well as anyone on the planet.
No matter what you think of Mack's cognitive abilities, I'm sure he can learn a few new plays, especially when all of them ask him to do one thing: blow stuff up.
2. He's worth every penny
If you're concerned about Mack missing time, you've taken a side in this showdown – you're with the team. If that's your prerogative, that's fine, but be open and honest about it.
Mack is looking for a massive payday – to become the first $20-million-per-year defensive player – and anyone who has seen him play knows that he's worth it. But he only has one negotiation tactic that can expedite the deal – a holdout. He's holding out because he's worth the deal he's asking for and he wants the security that comes with a new deal in place before the start of the season. If he didn't, what would be the Raiders' incentive to get something done?
3. It's advantageous for everyone to wait
The real showdown isn't between Mack and the Raiders – things are amicable there – it's really between Aaron Donald and the Rams.
Mack and Donald are both due new contracts, and both deserve to be the highest paid player in the NFL.
And so we have a bit of a game of chicken between four parties – the Rams, Donald, the Raiders, and Mack. Who will blink first?
It beats me, but it's advantageous to wait, as whichever player signs first re-sets the market and makes the second contract easy to negotiate.
There will be a resolution, but in the meantime, there's no reason for Mack to be on the field, risking injury and millions of dollars.