Gruden denies never speaking to holdout Mack

Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) is introduced before the start of the game against the New York Giants at Oakland Coliseum.Photo: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Gruden: "I talked to Mack when I got the job. I just haven't had a lot of talk with him lately."

The most noticeable absence around Oakland Raiders camp remains star defensive end Khalil Mack.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Mack is set to make $13.846 million this season in the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. The 27-year-old reportedly is looking to become among the highest-paid non-quarterbacks in the league.

Negotiations between the Raiders and Mack's representatives seem to have stalled. At least one report said new Raiders coach Jon Gruden and Mack have yet to talk.

Gruden denied that he and Mack had not any conversation since Oakland hired Gruden in January.

He "chuckled" when asked about not having any communication with Mack and the ensuing drama. Gruden responded to the San Francisco Examiner by asking, "Is that dramatic?"

In fact, Gruden said the report was not true.

"I've talked to Khalil," Gruden said. "Those guys aren't always 100 percent accurate. I talked to Mack when I got the job. I just haven't had a lot of talk with him lately. Not much to talk about right now."

According to a number of reports, the two sides are not close. Gruden said he hopes general manager Reggie McKenzie and Mack's agents can come to a middle ground so the 27-year-old Pro Bowler can start practice soon.

The Athletic termed negotiations as "ugly" and "tense" because Mack's representatives are afraid Gruden will be more focused on offense and not defense.

Gruden said he is focusing on the players who are in camp saying in a Fox Sports radio interview he hopes a deal is done soon so Mack can start practicing with his teammates.

"In the meantime, we brought in Arden Key in the third round to make a difference," Gruden said. "And Bruce Irvin's back at his natural position. Faldol Brown, some of these newcomers have got to take the ball and run with it until Khalil gets here."

The Raiders have place Mack on the reserve/did not report list and could fine him $40,000 for each day of camp he misses.

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