ALAMEDA -- If all goes according to plan, Donald Penn will render the Jared Veldheer-Rodger Saffold free agency debacle as a footnote.
Penn will not only be entrusted with protecting the blind side of quarterback Matt Schaub, but also with blocking out the memory of the events of March 12-13, when a bountiful free agency season for the Raiders got off to an embarrassing start.
To recap, talks with Veldheer's agent were stagnant, so the Raiders set their sights on the Rams' Saffold, agreeing to terms on a five-year contract with $21 million guaranteed and a maximum of $42.5 million.
While Veldheer was signing with Arizona, Saffold failed the Raiders' physical because of a torn labrum and went back to the Rams.
About the same time, Tampa Bay was releasing Penn, a starter, one-time Pro Bowler and eight-year veteran who had a rough season and was due $6.5 million. The Raiders not only had a need for a left tackle, but an offensive coordinator in Greg Olson whom Penn had worked with in Tampa.
Washington was also interested, but only if Penn was willing to play right tackle.
Penn became a Raider on March 19, signing a two-year contract worth $9.6 million, earning $4.6 million in 2014.
"Everything happens for a reason," Penn said. "Oakland called me quick, and I wasn't ready to play right tackle yet."
While playing for a Tampa team which struggled at quarterback, Penn allowed an unofficial 13.5 sacks two seasons after giving up only 3.5. The Raiders, obviously, expect much better, and both Olson and line coach Tony Sparano helped sell Penn on the idea of getting back on track with the Raiders.
"Donald has great feet," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He has been really good in pass protection. Oly (Olson) has had an opportunity to work with him and he kind of understands what the buttons are you have to push to drive him. I've been pleased with what I've seen out of Donald and I'm hoping for a big year out of him."
Having gone to high school in Southern California and attending Los Angeles Raiders games as a youth with his father, Penn, 6-foot-5, 340 pounds, is buying into the notion of an old-school line that punishes opponents.
"We're going to play like the old Raiders, but we're going to play smart," Penn said. "We're going to run the ball and run it and run it until they stop us, and that's going to be hard. We're going to be physical. We're not going to take any guff. We're going to dictate the tempo."
There has been speculation that Penn is merely holding down the left tackle spot until Menelik Watson (currently on the right side) or someone else is ready to assume the position. Penn, 31, doesn't feel that way.
"I've got a lot of left tackle in me and I plan on finishing my career as a left tackle," Penn said.