Will the Oakland Raiders retain starting left tackle Donald Penn, or will he head elsewhere in free agency?
Teams across the NFL will be looking to upgrade their offensive lines this offseason, and the 2016 free agent class offers a number of intriguing options. One such lineman who will generate some interest in free agency is Oakland Raiders veteran left tackle Donald Penn.
Notable stat: Started all 16 games in eight consecutive years.
All-Pro teams: 0
Pro Bowls: 1 (2010)
Penn has quietly put together a solid nine-year NFL career between the Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6-5, 305-pound veteran is a physically imposing tackle with a mean streak, and has displayed great longevity and durability for nearly a decade.
Despite being 32 years old, Penn is still playing at a high enough level to be considered a top-10 left tackle in the league. Penn would represent an upgrade at the position for a number of teams in the NFL, at least in the short-term.
Offensive lineman typically don’t have a very long shelf life, so Penn shouldn’t expect to get anything more than a two or three-year deal. Still, plenty of teams could use a starting-caliber tackle in 2016, so Penn should get a decent AAV on a short contract.
Estimate: 2 years/$18 million/$12 million guaranteed
Will he stay?
The Raiders have around $73 million in cap space to work with, so they could certainly afford to bring Penn back if they choose. Although Oakland decided not to use the franchise tag on Penn (which would have cost them about $13 million for one year), talks have been ongoing for a while, and there seems to be some mutual interest.
Oakland could use the help on the offensive line to protect its young quarterback Derek Carr, as the unit appears to be the weakest position on the offense. Khalif Barnes, Tony Bergstrom and J’Marcus Webb are also free agents on Oakland’s offensive line, so they may want to re-sign Penn for depth purposes if nothing else.
Still, the Raiders may be thinking more long-term, and getting younger at offensive line through the draft would be an understandable decision. Much of that money is going to be spent on the defense, and Oakland will move on if the price tag is too high or Penn looks for something more than a two-year deal.
If he leaves…
A few teams could use such a short-term upgrade at left tackle, so Penn should be able to find a starting job, even if it’s not in Oakland. Penn looks like a good fit for the Seattle Seahawks, who may be losing left tackle Russell Okung and need to do something about the offensive line while the window to win is still open.
The Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers are among other contenders with unsettled situations on the offensive line. If the San Diego Chargers don’t land an impact lineman in the draft, they could also be a destination for Penn, although their biggest need is on the right side.