On Friday, Raiders left tackle Donald Penn failed to show up to camp. He wants a new contract. As a result, many within RaiderNation have split opinions. While some support Penn, others demand that he honors the last year of his contract. Under those circumstances, many factors need weighing. Donald Penn is an elite left tackle and needs to be compensated like one. In addition, here are the reasons why.
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If you read the Raiders roster, how many Pro Bowl caliber left tackles do you see? Outside of Penn, none exist. Some foolishly think David Sharpe and Marshall Newhouse could easily fill his shoes. Logic like that makes me wonder how much actual football some fans watch. Elite left tackles are rare. As a result, teams pay through the nose. Why? For a right-handed quarterback, the left tackle is the only thing between him and a brutal blindside hit. Penn operates at the highest of levels. Yet, some fans believe anyone can do his job.
As social media explodes with venom directly at Penn, people question his approach. If Penn’s agent mentioned their client’s unhappiness and Oakland couldn’t’ reach a deal, a holdout remains logical. Fans complain that Penn waited too long. How do we know that this discussion did not begin in May or June? Although many media outlet cover the Raiders, no one knows every detail of the day-t-day. So, for all we know, Penn mentioned this six weeks or six months ago.
Like it or not, Donald Penn is a top offensive tackles, underpaid by his play. Immediately, that should end any debate for any extension. However, many fans feel as though he should honor his contract. They cite the fact of what people should do. In reality, there aren’t ten people walking the Earth that can do Penn’s job better. Can any fan honestly say that about their job? No, they cannot. Leverage is the ultimate tool in contract warfare. Penn uses his to get paid. Plus, anyone who says they would not do the same is lying. The notion of contract fulfillment dies when teams can cut a player in a heartbeat. Penn is a Top 10 left tackle, making the 23rd most for a left tackle.
Another myth surrounding Penn from fans is a lack of loyalty and perceived selfishness. During his tenure in Oakland, Penn watched his fellow linemen sign monster contracts. Hudson, Osemele and Jackson netted huge deals. Penn’s contract contains one remaining season. When Oakland could not win a game to save their lives, Penn played hard. Taking 90 plus percentage of snaps for losing teams is a struggle, a soul crushing experience.
However, social media explodes with the anger of those questioning a man’s loyalty. Stop, sit down. Think about that. In essence, Donald Penn’s job, if executed properly, keeps Derek Carr upright.
Sadly, some fans point out to the sack that altered the 2016 Raiders season as something to hold against Penn. If you can hold one sack against a left tackle and blame him for the season collapsing, I’m stunned. Granted, Carr breaking his leg was far from ideal. On the other hand, Penn’s excellence helped Oakland compile that record, in the first place.
If you are one of those that question Penn’s loyalty, please watch this:
Generally speaking, most Raiders fans appreciate Penn’s thought process. Also, they can relate to performing well at a job while being underpaid. Those who object can’t see the world honestly or objectively. Donald Penn deserves a raise, and the Raiders will give him one. Period.