The Chicago Bears needed pass rush help. They are set to land one of the best in the NFL.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Bears are expected to trade for Oakland Raiders star pass rusher Khalil Mack. The Bears have permission to negotiate a deal with Mack, which has been ongoing since Friday night, Rapoport added.
Rumors heated up that Mack could be on the move after Rams defensice tackle Aaron Donald signed his new record-setting contract. With the Raiders hesitant to match Donald’s deal with Mack, trading him became an option if they received the right offer.
Chicago GM Ryan Pace was willing to pay the price.
Rapoport previously reported the Raiders were seeking two first-round picks in exchange for Mack. Mack’s agents negotiating with the Bears means Oakland got the offer it sought.
Rapoport adds that the Bears are expected to negotiate a long-term deal with Mack that should eclipse Donald’s record-setting deal.
Adding Mack is huge for Matt Nagy’s team. The Bears defense already had the potential to be sneaky good this season under coordinator Vic Fangio. Chicago boasted an underrated back end led by corner Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson, a stout front with Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman and a very good linebacker corps with Danny Trevathan and sideline-to-sideline tackling maven in rookie Roquan Smith. The biggest question mark was who would rush the passer opposite Leonard Floyd.
We now have our answer.
Adding the former Defensive Player of the Year completely changes the makeup of the Bears’ defense. Mack is a game-wrecking bulldozer who doesn’t come out of the game. In four years in Oakland, Mack compiled 40.5 sacks and 231 tackles while missing a mere 44 passing snaps.
Raiders with/without Khalil Mack on the field over the last four seasons pic.twitter.com/8QY9gM9Bum
â Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell)
September 1, 2018
The Bears spent most of the offseason focusing on improving the offense. Pace brought in Nagy, added weapons around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton. Now Pace went all in adding Mack.
The price to acquire and retain Mack was extremely high for the Bears. The truth, however, is that generational pass rushers almost never become available in their prime.
While the Bears are willing to give Mack the contract he desires, the Raiders were not.
In his first huge move since returning to coaching, Jon Gruden shipped out his team’s best player. NFL Network’s Michael Silver reported Friday night that while Raiders owner Mark Davis was not excited about the idea of trading Mack, Gruden was open to moving on.
Gruden downplayed the importance of Mack the entire offseason, at one point noting Oakland’s D was poor with the pass rusher last season. Gruden’s logic, whether you agree with it or not, is that the Raiders can take the savings from trading Mack to add multiple players down the road.
Trading a player of Mack’s capability does not make Oakland better today. With a 10-year, $100 million contract, Gruden, however, is playing the long game. Adding two first-round picks and avoiding salary-cap hell could set the Raiders on solid foundation years ahead. The theory only works if Oakland hits on those draft picks and signs good players. We know Mack is a great player. Draft picks and cap space can be fool’s gold.
Time will tell if the Raiders made the right move trading a game-changing player at one of the most important positions in football for a future treasure trove.
One thing is certain Saturday morning: AFC West quarterbacks are popping champagne, and NFC North signal-callers are tossing their phones into the lake.