The Raiders reportedly have a deal in place to trade defensive end Khalil Mack to the Bears after weeks of rumors and unrest. Losing one of the best players in the league is never ideal, but head coach Jon Gruden and company can at least take solace in knowing they forced Chicago to surrender more for a defensive player than any other team in NFL history.
The most an NFL team has surrendered for a defensive player is when Vikings traded a 1, two 3’s and a swap of 5’s to Chiefs for DE Jared Allen. Bears trade for Khalil Mack, when it gets done, will top that, making it the most an NFL team has surrendered for a defensive player.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 1, 2018
It wouldn’t be surprising to see at least one first- and one second-rounder included in the deal, maybe more.
Even if you don’t agree with the trade, it’s easy to see why both the Bears and Raiders agreed to it.
Why the Raiders Traded Mack
Gruden made his opinion on the Raiders defense, including Mack, crystal clear as early as July.
“We weren’t very good last year on defense with Khalil Mack … We didn’t have an interception, I think, all year. I don’t know if we intercepted a pass until Week 14. We’ve got to get a better pass rush, we’ve got to play better defense, period. And we hope Khalil gets here, but in the time being, we’ve got plenty of guys who need work.”
It’s tough to call Mack anything other than an elite player: Only Von Miller has more total pressures since Mack entered the league in 2014. Still, Gruden wasn’t wrong about how bad the Raiders defense was last season.
- Overall Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA): 29th
- Pass DVOA: 30th
- Adjusted Sack Rate: 23rd
- Takeaways: T-30th
Paying Mack a Derek Carr-esque salary while the rest of the Raiders roster is more or less in ruins probably wouldn’t be the best way to go about rebuilding a team. Of course, the porous defense will likely be worse this year without Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 overall edge defender in the fold.
The Raiders appear to be positioning themselves for the future. Their treasure chest of draft picks is now stocked, although it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to compete in the loaded AFC West during their final days in Oakland.
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Why the Bears Traded for Mack
The Bears are attempting to go all in on a playoff push while quarterback Mitch Trubisky remains on a rookie contract. Their cap sheet isn’t empty after adding free agents Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton this offseason, but they should be able to frontload Mack’s inevitable massive extension since Trubisky won’t be due for a new deal until at least 2021.
The addition of Mack could be the key that unlocks what was already an above-average Bears defense. While Chicago has won only 15 games over the past three seasons, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has improved his unit every year. Overall, the defense has jumped from 31st to 14th in DVOA since 2015.
Mack is the only player in NFL history to be selected as an All-Pro for two different positions in the same year (defensive end and outside linebacker). He might be the league’s premiere overall defensive player.
Most pressures in the NFL since 2015:
1. Khalil Mack (257) 🐻
2. Aaron Donald (251)
3. Von Miller (244)
4. Geno Atkins (228)
5. Cameron Jordan (223) pic.twitter.com/i2ddWBHaN6
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 1, 2018
It’s safe to say that NFC North quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford won’t be thrilled with the Bears’ new addition. The defense now boasts one of the league’s most-athletic pair of pass rushers in Mack and 2016 No. 9 pick Leonard Floyd, and the middle will be patrolled by this season’s No. 8 overall pick Roquan Smith.
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Mack is unlikely to be in peak playing shape after sitting out Raiders training camp, so he might play in a part-time role early in the season. Even so, we shouldn’t have to wait long to see the Bears’ new monster of the midway unleashed — a scary thought for quarterbacks around the league.
Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Khalil Mack (52)