The Oakland Raiders enjoyed a successful 2016 NFL regular season, going 12-4 and seeing several of their players receive Pro-Bowl honors. Despite the early exit in the playoffs, the Raiders have plenty to look forward to heading into next season.
While much of Oakland’s success can be attributed to quarterback Derek Carr and their high-octane offense, the team’s defense should also get some credit. With Carr in charge of the offense, linebacker Khalil Mack was largely responsible for the team’s defense. According to Instagram, Mack’s play this year has earned him recognition from the league:
Mack is more than deserving of the award after his strong efforts on the defensive end. The two-time Pro-Bowler racked up 73 tackles and 11 sacks. He also managed to force five fumbles and three fumble recoveries. The pass rusher’s talent and skill almost single-handedly propped up the team’s defense, despite the Raiders ultimately finishing below average in defense rankings.
Mack’s impact has firmly cemented him as one of the NFL’s elite defenders and the Raiders should not have to think twice about signing him to a contract extension, despite Carr also eligible for an extension. The rest of the roster may thin out a bit as a result, but Mack and Carr are their building blocks going forward and locking them up to long-term contracts should be the team’s priority.