Sean Payton turns 54 on Dec. 29 and is in his 12th season as New Orleans Saints head coach. He was an NFL assistant coach for nine seasons before that. He was a college coach for nine seasons before that.

But the way Payton views it, he is only in the middle of his NFL coaching career. A Super Bowl XLIV championship in 2010, a “Bountygate” suspension for the entire 2012 season, an undisputed status as one of the NFL’s cleverest offensive minds, and three straight 7-9, non-playoff seasons entering Saints training camp on Thursday morning coalesce to form his view on the game and his “obsession.”

Penn, 34, was a Pro Bowler at left tackle for the Raiders in 2016, but is running out of time to get significant chunks of money in his NFL career. He’s in the second season of a two-year, $11.9 million deal and is set to make $7.15 million in 2017.

But other offensive linemen on the team like Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson received huge contracts worth $58 and $55 million, respectively, over five years each.

Yet the Raiders still have more than $9 million in salary cap space after dishing out those contracts and the blockbuster deal that Derek Carr received earlier in the offseason.

Other stars on the team like Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper are due for contracts soon, but adding a year or two on Penn’s contract, or restructuring to dish out a little bit more in 2017, is doable.

Penn, like most other holdouts, doesn’t have a ton of leverage, but he’s due to become a free agent in 2018. If the Raiders want to keep him protecting Carr’s blindside beyond 2017, it may be wise to throw him a bone.
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