The Chicago Bears have won the right to pay Khalil Mack a huge contract, but did they overpay the Raiders for Pro Bowl defender?
There’s zero question the Bears are significantly upgrading their defense by acquiring Khalil Mack. He’s a Pro Bowl defensive end who should provide Chicago double-digit sacks for the foreseeable future. Predictably, his departure from Oakland leaves the Raiders with a massive hole in their defense.
Evaluating this trade isn’t a simple question of whether or not Mack helps the Bears though. There’s a lot more to unpack here. Matt Nagy’s team gave up a ton of draft capital to make this move happen. Initial reports suggest it will cost the Bears two first round picks to complete the trade. That will significantly hamstring the team’s ability to add high level talent moving forward.
That’s great news for the Raiders future, but it’s not going to help them win any games in 2018. This marks the start of a significant rebuild in Oakland. Their defense will go from average to poor without Mack’s pass rushing.
Let’s start evaluating this by taking a look at what trading for Mack means to the Bears.
You can’t overstate the potential impact Mack is going to have on this defense. The Bears needed to add a pass rusher to work on the other side of the formation from Leonard Floyd. Mack represents the best player the team could have realistically acquired.
That doesn’t mean this is a home run for the Bears. Giving up two first round picks is a massive risk by the team’s front office. If Mack doesn’t transform the Bears into a playoff team immediately, losing those high draft picks is really going to sting. When reports broke that the Raiders wanted two first rounders for Mack, most people assumed they’d be forced to drop their price.
Chicago deciding to step up and meet that price is a massive gamble on Nagy’s ability to improve the roster internally. Placing that kind of bet on a rookie coach is either going to look brilliant or insane in three years.
This move will also cost the Bears a ton of money. The team should already know what his contract terms will be, but it will certainly cost them over $20 million per season. That type of contract will fit nicely if Mitchell Trubisky can provide them solid quarterback play on a rookie contract. If Trubisky doesn’t hit the Bears might regret giving Mack such a massive deal.
In the end, Mack is a generational talent and the Bears are paying full price to acquire him. The deal would make more sense if he was the last player they needed to add to become Super Bowl contenders. The Bears are making this deal too early in their rebuild.
No Raiders fans are celebrating this deal. Better than anyone else, they understand what a big time impact Mack can have on a defense. The Oakland defense wasn’t good last season, and it’s almost certainly going to be worse in 2018.
Not many first-year coaches could have sanctioned this sort of deal. The fact that Jon Gruden has a fully guaranteed, 10-year contract gives him the freedom to move such a talented veteran. Moving Mack will make the Raiders worse in the short-term.
The rationale behind the move from the Raiders perspective is that two first round picks from the Bears could provide them with immense value. It’s a pretty good haul considering the circumstances. This type of draft capital gives the Raiders a chance to find equal value for Mack. It’s not the most likely outcome, but the upside is there.
The Raiders believe not paying Mack big money is also a positive in their column. Presumably, Gruden and company think it will help them bring in free agents moving forward. It actually should have the opposite effect. Big name free agents are not going to want to move to Oakland after they balked at paying Mack big money. There will be serious questions around the league about the team’s willingness to pay their stars.
This is a rare deal where both teams lose. It turns out slightly worse for the Raiders, than the Bears. Neither team should be celebrating.