The Oakland Raiders weren’t bluffing.
Clearly, there was fire behind the smoke as shortly after reports claimed the Raiders were considering moving Khalil Mack, they pulled the trigger by sending him to the Chicago Bears in a package worth at least two first-round picks on Saturday.
It’s a bold move for both teams and one that could fit the bill as a rare win-win.
Oakland initially look foolish for moving on from a generational talent, who is a year removed from being named Defensive Player of the Year and still just 27.
Mack had yet to report to Oakland as he held out all summer in the hopes of negotiating a monster long-term deal. By trading him rather than getting a contract ironed out, the Raiders are receiving criticism for botching the situation.
However, if the report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is true that Chicago will hand a contract to Mack that will eclipse the one just signed by the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald, Oakland may have avoided a deal that was too rich for their blood while getting valuable assets in return.
It’s not that Mack isn’t worth the money, but if the alternative involves acquiring two first rounders and change, the Raiders can justify moving on from a player that couldn’t help lift the defence into the top half of the league during his time with the franchise.
The optics definitely look bad though, as Oakland spent $100 million on hiring head coach Jon Gruden this offseason but chose to be frugal with their best player.
Chicago, meanwhile, paid a steep price just to secure Mack, before any contract extension.
Their defence will instantly receive a boost as Mack, who has 40.5 sacks in four years, joins a nucleus consisting of Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Kyle Fuller and others.
It’s an aggressive move by the Bears to get better as soon as possible and will instantly raise expectations around the team for the coming season, although they still appear to sit behind Minnesota and Green Bay in the NFC North.
Mack’s talent is capable of accelerating Chicago’s rebuild, but the move also seems like one more fitting for a team that is a star away from being a Super Bowl contender – a place the Bears have yet to reach.
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