Will it be in time for the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams? Who knows? But Gruden gave his thoughts on Mack’s potential return.
“I don’t want to put any timetable on it,” Gruden said Monday. “This is obviously a long process that’s been grueling for both parties and fans and me personally. We’re just hoping we can get him in here.”
The Raiders open the season against the Rams on Sept. 10 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Mack is in his final year of his rookie contract. In April, NFL.com reported that the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year is seeking $65 million. He is set to make $13,846,000 under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
Mack has been productive since arriving with the Raiders in 2014. In four seasons, Mack has 40.5 sacks, 304 tackles and one interception that turned into a pick-6 against the Carolina Panthers in 2016.
Raiders tackle Donald Penn knows what it’s like to holdout. He held out last season and came to a contract agreement just before the season.
“I know how it is and I’ve been through it three times in my career,” Penn said. “Those guys know it’s a business side of this. I know Khalil is out there working his butt off just like I was when I was holding out. I hope and pray it gets done real fast because him and Derek (Carr) are the heartbeat on this team. We want him here.”
Penn said he spoke to Mack prior to the preseason game against the Rams on Aug. 18 and said “he’s doing good” and was “in good spirits.”
“That would be a great problem to have,” Gruden said. “His play-making, leadership and his presence … great players like Mack have all those things going for them. They make people around them better, and they make offenses account for you. You’re going to account for Khalil Mack, you’re probably going to have to double team the guy and someone else is not going to have to deal with that. There’s a lot of things that a great player that brings to your football team.”