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Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Khalil Mack Traded to Bears
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The biggest trade of the year is on, according to multiple reports this morning. Oakland is trading edge rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago for a package that should include two first-round picks plus other compensation. Mack would then likely agree to a new long-term contract with Chicago.

Mack is probably one of the few players worth that money and those picks. You're talking about a dominating defensive player in his prime. He'll have even more impact in Chicago where he'll have better teammates around him on defense and a better coordinator. At the same time, Mack is an example of the limited impact a single defensive player can have compared to the impact of a quarterback. The Raiders ranked 29th in defensive DVOA last year, with Mack having a great season. The year before, they ranked 22nd in defensive DVOA and he was Defensive Player of the Year.

At the same time, you trade for first-round picks so you can find players as good as Mack. Those aren't players you trade away. And the Bears can afford the big contract because they've got three more years (plus option year) on Mitchell Trubisky on a rookie deal. Now they just have to hope Trubisky develops because, as we often say, offense is more consistent than defense.

UPDATE: The official tally is in. The Bears acquired Mack, a 2020 second-round pick, and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick from the Raiders in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick, a 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2019 sixth-round pick.

UPDATE 2: And the next domino to fall, Mack is now the highest-paid defensive player in the league, passing Aaron Donald. They handed him a six-year, $141 million deal with $90 million guaranteed and a $60 million signing bonus. Mack will be in Chicago through his age-33 season.

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47 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2018, 3:55pm

2 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Glad it is over, and people can report on other things. Raiders could not have afforded a Donald type salary with what they are already paying out for Carr and the OL, and all the speculation was that Mack was looking for a similar deal, so I have no problem with this. As the article pointed out, the D sucked even with him, so limiting the ability to improve it by paying Mack what he apparently wanted would have been really dumb.

30 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Carr's cap number's $25m this year, but it's 22, 21, 22, and 19 for the rest of the deal. That doesn't seem that bad. That looks like the going rate for an average QB.

Looking at Over the Cap, it's not "the OL" that's expensive, it's specifically your two guards.

Jackson's cap numbers are $10, 10, 7, 9, 9, 9.
Osemele's cap numbers are $13, 13, 10, 10, 11.

Mack's cap numbers in the Bears deal are $13m, 22, 24, 24, 24, 22, 23.

Additionally, all of that money for your guards is non-guaranteed except for Jackson this year. Both those guys can be cut for zero cap hit if necessary. Osemele this year, Jackson next year.

So, if I'm reading this right, you could have cut Osemele this year, and Jackson next year, and signed Mack to the Bears contract, and been in basically the exact same cap position you are now, except you'd have to pay for two guards instead of an edge rusher.

I understand the argument that paying $50m to an edge rusher + a QB makes it very difficult to assemble a solid roster.

But I would argue that paying $45m to a QB and two guards makes it even more difficult than that. That's a mistake that's easy to get out from under, though. Almost all the guard money's non-guaranteed.

I don't understand what the Raiders are doing at all. I guess they're rebuilding now? If so, why trade a fifth for McCarron? Why sign Jordy Nelson (who has a $7m cap hit this year and next year)?

If they're trying to be competitive, they have $22m in cap space this year, $55m next year, and $122m in 2020. What could make them more competitive than spending that excess money on one of the top few edge rushers in the game?

I dunno. I've always liked the Raiders. This isn't logical, but the NFL feels better when the Raiders are good - or at least scary. I liked how McKenzie's rebuild was coming basically up until this year. He's said publicly that he had money for extensions for Mack and Carr, and on paper, it looks like he did. It's hard for me not to blame this on Gruden, and if Gruden's overruling McKenzie's personnel decisions, if I was McKenzie, I'd consider quitting.

3 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

This is all Jon Gruden trying to send a message to his team that no one is indispensable, if you don't toe the line, team first, etc. I don't like the guy, personally, so I won't be too heartbroken when the Raiders bomb.

6 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

As a Raiders fan, I have to say that this offseason has been as big a downer as McKenzie's first spring and summer was a an upper. I didn't express that very well, but I think you all know what I mean. What a mess.

Can we get Donald Penn to straight up kill Gruden?

9 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

It's a little weird that deals like this happen.

One way to think of it: if Mack wants to max out his compensation, then presumably he'd want to set up a situation where everything that the Bears are paying out goes to him. But instead, the Bears are paying out a large chunk of that compensation (2 first rounds picks?) to the Oakland Raiders organization. Presumably that cuts into Mack's earnings. So why would a player force this sort of deal?

To put somewhat made-up numbers on it, let's say that having a first round pick is worth $5M/yr to a team for the 4-5 years when that player is on the rookie wage scale. Then if a team is willing to give up 2 first rounds picks for a player and pay him $20M/yr for 4-5 years, presumably they would also be willing to just pay him $30M/yr in free agency.

So what's going on?

One possibility is that the Bears are willing to pay more if they're giving up a combination of contract dollars and draft picks than if they were only giving up contract dollars. If that's what happening, it suggests that either the Bears are overpaying for Mack, or the top free agents are underpaid.

Another possibility is that Mack is impatient or risk-averse. He wants to get a bunch of guaranteed money right now rather than playing 1-3 years under the 5th year option and perhaps a franchise tag or two, even if he would get a much bigger contract once he hit free agency.

10 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Wouldn’t the value of those 1st round picks that they just traded away now be available to give to Mack?

But I also just don’t completely buy the line of reasoning, it’s not as if Mack were the only person in this situation. He wanted security like all NFL stars, just for whatever reason the Raiders didn’t want to give it to him.

11 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

"Wouldn’t the value of those 1st round picks that they just traded away now be available to give to Mack?"

Take an example, suppose a first round pick is paid 4 Mil but 'worth' 9 Mil (due to the rookie salary rules). The Bears would indeed 'keep' the 4 Mil but can only buy a 4 Mil value with it. The Raiders get the deal of a 9 Mil player for 4 Mil.

13 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Then if a team is willing to give up 2 first rounds picks for a player and pay him $20M/yr for 4-5 years, presumably they would also be willing to just pay him $30M/yr in free agency.

If there was no salary cap, maybe. With the cap, another $10M is a huge difference, whereas the cost of the first-round picks has nothing to do with the cap.

15 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

It has plenty to do with the cap. For instance, if they drafted Njoku in the 1st round then they wouldn't have needed to sign Burton in free agency.

If you have a need at TE, you could spend $8M/yr on one of the top FA TEs, or spend a first round pick plus $2.5M/yr on a top rookie TE, or use those cap dollars / draft picks on a star pass rusher and muddle through at TE with just Sims, Shaheen, and Brown.

Teams face those sorts of decisions over and over throughout their roster. Good players cost resources (some combination of dollars and draft picks), and if you spend those resources in one place then they aren't available to spend elsewhere.

14 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

It's the 2020 2nd rounder, but you're not wrong.

By the Chase Stuart AV table (and discounting future picks by one round, as is the custom), the Bears are giving up somewhere between 35 and 40 AV of picks, and getting Mack and 5-10 AV back, depending on just how good the Bears and Raiders are over the next two seasons.

That's AV above average. Mack's already produced 40 AV above average, and the draft value is designed around looking at five years of value, not four.

Any justification from the Raiders' point of view has to be focused around salary constraints and roster construction, not the player. Because just in terms of who they gave up and what they're getting in return, they got fleeced.

I understand the argument -- the Raiders are bad, they were going to be bad with Mack, now they can be bad without Mack and get the extra picks to build out of badness -- but if you're not going to pay Khalil Mack, who are you going to pay? And the answer seems to be Derek Carr. I dunno, I think it's easier to find the next Derek Carr than it is to find the next Khalil Mack.

The Raiders currently have the seventh most cap room in 2019 and the sixth most in 2020, per Spotrac. They had the room to make a deal.

42 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

The price for Jared Allen was a bit less steep than what the Bears just traded for Mack—a first and two thirds. That was also before the new CBA, you could possibly consider first round picks a little more valuable now with the set salaries and years of control.

(Although at the end of the day the upside is the same—you're hoping to draft a franchise-type player and have the best opportunity to keep them through the entirety of their prime. A player like Khalil Mack. Jesus, what is Oakland doing?)

Mack is probably about as close to a sure thing as it can get for the Bears but I'll be interested to see how it ultimately works out to pay a super-premium (in terms of the combination of salary and draft capital) for a single defensive player, even a pass rusher. To go back to Allen, he was awesome in Minnesota, but he ended up getting his 22 sacks for a 3-13 team in 2011 and the Vikings had a below-average defensive DVOA in the last 3 of his 6 seasons there, even with him starting every game. JJ Watt, in his prime, once started every game for a 2-14 team with a below-average defensive DVOA. This isn't at all an argument against acquiring superstar defensive players but just to say that building a defense is complicated. A weak link or lack of depth can undermine the entire operation and essentially erase the impact of a superstar player—will what the Bears just paid for Mack cause depth issues or give them difficulty re-tooling their roster if the need arises? I suppose they are in about the best position a team can be to try it with Trubisky on his rookie deal for 3-4 more seasons.

43 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Well, you are right (and my memory failed me about what the Vikings traded for Allen ), but then again, short of 2010 Peyton Manning, if you put 5 parking cones in front of a HOF qb, you're likely going to lose a lot. That 2011 Vikings team may as well of hired their defensive backfield via lottery from pregame sports bar patrons. Injuries had a lot to do with it.

27 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Doesn't seem like that's true. They were nearly identical in DVOA and DYAR in 2014, but Carr was better the next year. Since then Bridgewater hasn't played, while Carr was 7th in DYAR and 6th in DVOA two years ago, then 12th and 13th last year. That establishes a baseline significantly higher than Bridgewater, who has never had a season as a top 20 QB. Plus, he now hasn't played in two years, so whether he can ever recover to the mediocre level he once attained is up in the air.

32 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

You may be right, what I was thinking was that, as you note, they started with nearly identical results, then their stats began to depart as Carr's line and WRs got better and Teddy's, well, didn't. If indeed the knee is back, and they have otherwise equal circumstances (team and coaches), I think their stats would return to nearly parallel.

17 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

My roommate has been a Raiders fan since childhood; I've been softly pushing for him to dump them and pick another team, because rooting for a hopeless franchise SUCKS. This trade is just the ammo I needed! A shock and awe of stupidity unrivalled since… um, earlier this year when the Bills traded for Josh Allen.

When you hate everything about your childhood home team, fucking leave them behind! Why would you subject yourself to that?

I grew up in Washington DC and my favorite shirt in elementary school had Mark Rypien on it, but the R-words are more evil than even the Cowboys now, and I'm a much happier person for having severed my emotional ties with them. Raiders fans should do the same! Pick another, worthier team! You can thank me later.

ETA: everyone except RaiderJoe. I hope you never change, Joe!

23 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

This seems like Gruden's attempt to follow the Jimmy Johnson blueprint, but unfortunately for him, he couldn't find anyone willing to overpay for Mack in the same way that the Vikings overpaid for Herschel Walker.

As for the Bears, I'm sure their bandwagon, which seemed pretty full before this, will now be overflowing. Personally, though, I won't be joining it, as I'm just not sold that Trubisky will ever develop into an "elite" QB, and even if he does, I think it will take a couple more years.

33 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Bill Barnwell's take makes me feel a little better about this, but I'm still convinced Gruden is tearing down McKenzie's carefully rebuilt roster.
I mean, where's the logic in throwing away a third rounder on Matavius Bryant, releasing the second-best punter in the NFL, downgrading from Crabtree to Nelson, trading an underappreciated fullback away, re-signed a wide receiver with butter fingers (Seth Roberts), or trading for McCarron?

39 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Perhaps, but I gotta tell ya, this fan:

a) Wept when Al traded him away, thinking we were "this close".
b) Was surprised and disappointed by his long-term lack of success in Tampa
c) Was not at all impressed by his time in the booth
d) Meanwhile, saw Reggie as a kind of savior, even with some drafts and F/As being more down than up. At least he was sane.
e) Has been dismayed by this off-season.
f) Believes that modern athletes have no more time for his act than they did for Jeff Fisher.
g) Fears that is the course we're on...

41 Re: BREAKING NEWS: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

Honestly, now that Mack's salary numbers are out, I'm starting to think that the Raiders didn't have enough cash in the coffers to fund the guaranteed portion of the contract. Between paying for Gruden's contract and coaching staff, preparing for the Vegas move, and covering the large guarantees for Carr and the guards, maybe there wasn't enough cash to cover $90MM guaranteed. I mean, the Davises had to sell off a chunk of the club to raise capital, couldn't have paid for a new stadium in Oakland even if they wanted to, and didn't train at altitude at all for last year's Mexico City game even though they had a bye week before the game and their opponents the Patriots spent a week in CO at the Air Force Academy. Clearly, Oakland is on a budget.

Additionally, I'm not surprised by this. Gruden made his bones as an offensive coach and has always invested resources on that side of the ball. Remember how he'd cycle through QBs in Tampa? He's kinda doing same thing with the Hackenberg and McCarron trades even though he has a franchise guy on the roster. Wouldn't be shocked if the guy has spent more time watching backup QB film this offseason than of his own defense.

47 Re: Khalil Mack Traded to Bears

I'm late on this because I was on vacation when the news broke. Here's what I thought of the trade/signing at the time:

1. Giving up 2 firsts is a lot, especially when you have a GM who has traded up in every draft so far. It may be true that Mack is a steal for this price (especially considering that the Bears are getting back a 2020 2nd that could theoretically be not far below what their own 1st would be), but then again, I remember a lot of people who were ecstatic when the Bears gave up 2 firsts for Jay Cutler. Mack is a much, much better player at his position than Cutler was, but the Raiders' performance is an indication of how much less important he is than a QB.
2. I know discounting the value of your team's draft picks because you don't trust the GM makes no rational sense, but there's still a part of me that shrugs and says, well, Pace was probably going to screw up at least one of those picks if he didn't trade it.
3. I don't know about the money. If there was no salary cap I would say making Mack the highest-paid defensive player in history is a no-brainer, but there is a cap.

After last night, I have 2 more thoughts.

1. Holy cow, Mack is good and probably worth any amount of money.
2. But I still think the Bears are going to squander him. It's so Bears that Mack put together a stat line in one half that was literally unprecedented, built a 20-0, and still lost the game.