The Oakland Raiders are currently involved with a franchise-changing season, thanks mostly to the elite play of Derek Carr and Khalil Mack. Carr has emerged into the NFL MVP conversation, while Mack is certainly gunning for the AFC Defensive Player of the Year award.
The offensive and defensive stars have molded themselves into leadership roles, setting an example for the entire Raiders’ roster. Head coach Jack Del Rio has implemented a business-like mentality for the team, as their success isn’t getting to their heads.
Currently sitting in the playoff conversation, the Raiders have undergone a change of sorts in terms of outlook. Upon securing their first winning season since 2002, the team has two cornerstone franchise players to build off of.
However, a certain problem lies ahead for the team and their outlook. Both Carr and Mack came into the NFL together, as a part of the same draft class. Now both in their third seasons, the two stars have clearly molded, if not exceeded, into the expectations the organization had in store.
Since these two players reside in the 2014 NFL draft class, that means they both can receive a new contract upon the completion of the 2016 season. Management will surely have a tough time delegating the task, but it seems they have found a pecking order, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Raiders are currently expected to focus on signing Carr before Mack.
The reasoning behind the decision makes sense, as management’s decision to think ahead all those years back has paid dividends. While both of their contracts are set to expire after this season, Mack actually has a vesting option, which can change his deal to five years.
If the Raiders elect to fulfill that option, they can focus on Carr this offseason and sign Mack to a worthy contract the following season. It should be noted that management has until May 3 to exercise the fifth-year option.
Since Carr was a second round draft pick, his contract didn’t include the option for the fifth year. If the Raiders weren’t able to reach an agreement, they can also use the franchise tag on the franchise quarterback.
If Carr goes on to succeed at the pace he has set, it can make the situation tricky for the organization. With his name mixed into the MVP conversation and the Raiders succeeding, he may require a top-notch deal.
During this salary cap era of the NFL, the Raiders have yet to make that investment, especially at the quarterback position. As for Mack, his situation may require playing the waiting game. If the Raiders were to give him that option, all he could technically do is wait until his contract expires the following season to get what he rightfully deserves.
The All-Pro player could take the star-treatment route and hold out for a better situation, but fines given and bonuses lost wouldn’t benefit the third-year player. All signs moving forward would suggest that Carr wouldn’t take as lucrative a deal as expected, knowing very well it would put the team in a position where they can’t sign other big-name players.
Carr’s leadership style is one that sets an example, which means he may very well have another opportunity to prove he is loyal to the Raiders and to just winning, baby.