PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 25: Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders walks onto the field prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

While meeting Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack‘s contract demands could cost the Oakland Raiders tens of millions in salary, not paying him could cost them games in 2018.

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported Tuesday Mack is prepared to continue his holdout into the regular season and miss games if his contract situation is not taken care of before the season opener on Sept. 10.

The No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Mack is currently only under contract for the fifth-year option in his rookie deal. He is scheduled to make $13.846 million in 2018, per Spotrac.

Since being drafted, Mack has quickly become one of the top defenders in the league. He has racked up 231 tackles, 40.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, one interception and one touchdown in four seasons. He has earned three Pro Bowl nods, two first-team All-Pro selections and the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award.

As the holdout drags throughout the preseason, The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported last week that there is “nothing new” in contract talks and that the two sides remain far apart on guaranteed money. Oakland coach Jon Gruden recently called the negotiations a “grueling process,” via Tafur.

Getting Mack back on the field figures to be a top priority in the Bay Area. However, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the Raiders aren’t ruling out the possibility of a trade. After all, Gruden is on the record of saying “we weren’t very good last year on defense with Khalil Mack.”

The two sides are quickly running out of time to strike a deal before the holdout has actual ramifications. At this point, Mack has not been able to work himself into Gruden’s system, which could prove problematic if or when he finally returns to the field. Then again, if no deal is reached, the Raiders may be forced to play without the leader of their defense and see their playoff hopes take a serious hit.

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