Bears Trade Khalil Mack to Chargers

Chargers ER Khalil Mack
Chargers ER Khalil Mack
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Let the arms race in the AFC West continue, as the Chargers are dealing a second-round pick and a late-round pick in 2023 to Chicago for pass-rusher Khalil Mack. Mack had a down year with only seven games played in 2021 but has been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL for years. He'll now line up opposite Joey Bosa.

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18 comments, Last at 14 Mar 2022, 10:20am

1 It's #48 and a '23 6th

Less than what half a year of Von got (yes I know the Broncos paid $9m of it). 

I do love trades. Feels like the Bears should've and could've gotten more. Don't think he had a NTC. 

73 PFF grade which actually qualified for 29th/107 ED. IDK if they should be thinking total reset. They had ample cap space and this just creates another hole for $24m dead. 

Well the NFC gets easier for us lol

2 At first blush, I like this…

At first blush, I like this trade ok for both sides though less s for the Bears. 

While its almost accepted as given that the Bears are going to stink next year and the year after, I don't think that's something you can know in advance. Nfl rebuilds are not like NBA rebuilds and unless this is the first domino that preludes a blood letting, the Bears aren't so bereft of talent to be diving head first into a multi year tank. Frankly, Mac has value for the next Bears team that's good and that is a lot sooner than you might think.

7 It doesn't necessarily have…

It doesn't necessarily have to be a multi-year tank for the Bears - they're setting themselves up to have like $150 million in cap room going into 2023. And they actually are pretty bereft of talent <30 years old outside of Roquan Smith and I guess the RBs. (Allen Robinson is only 28, but that relationship is dead.) This is definitely a year for them to just go ahead and unload bad contracts like when Beane/McDermott joined the Bills. Funny enough that Bills team unintentionally made the playoffs, but it also didn't take them very long to truly become contenders either.

3 The more I swish this around…

The more I swish this around in my head, the more I kind of hate this for the Chargers. "Mack had a down year with only seven games played in 2021" is really underselling it: his pressures (total and rate) have declined for three straight years and he's coming off a significant injury, and the Chargers are apparently taking the whole contract. They'll have to either extend or, more likely, cut him by this time next year; he's obviously not terrible, but he's probably closer to average than elite at this point, and he'll have to agree to a reduced contract going forward (whether with the Chargers or someone else).

If he can play a full season he'll almost certainly be better than whoever they could get in the 2nd round next year (a weighty "If"), but they're only trading for the one year. It's a "Win Now" move for a team that didn't even make the playoffs last year. I guess they see the Bengals and are trying to spin up their own run.

Which, on its own, is great! But if you're going to gamble on a formerly elite NFC North pass rusher coming off an injury, Za'darius Smith could almost certainly be had for less money and no pick in a few days. Ditto Von Miller, Dante Fowler, Jerry Hughes... They had a ton of options to get a similar-caliber player for cheaper.

6 The Bears assume all of the…

The Bears assume all of the dead cap/guaranteed money on Mack's contract - the Chargers will carry him for about $18 million this season, have full freedom to cut him for zero dead money whenever, and really don't have any near-term cap concerns given that Herbert is only into the 3rd year of his rookie deal. This is honestly exactly the type of move a team in their situation should make. I would also argue that his upside is much higher than Z, Fowler and/or Hughes, and again, they have $0 guaranteed committed in the future.

8 100% agree

Elite DEs like CBs are force multipliers.  The easy way to beat an elite CB is to throw away from him.  But with two, you can’t.  Same idea with DE and double teams.  Having two elite DEs or CBs is truly a case of 1+1=3.

But now, the Bears are worse at a premium position and the weak haul might net them a rookie C and a 3rd WR in FA this year, and maybe a WR1 next yr.  This would leave them and Fields’ development in worse shape.  

Conversely, Herbert is the real deal and the Chargers MUST go all in while he’s still on his rookie contract.  

It will be a joy watching that 1 + 1 = 3 this fall. 

9 'Mikey likes it!?!' (really old commercial reference)

I actually like this move a lot for the Chargers. They've got the cap room for this season, and as Dank points out they can freely cut Mack afterwards if he doesn't work out due to injury, aging or whatever. They're close enough such that it is worth trading some 'Future' for 'Now'. Mack played fine last season when he was actually playing.

This is by definition the most Chicago could get right now for Mack. Unless they don't like Mack's medicals regarding his foot, I might've actually waited in this case. See if some contender loses its edge rusher during training camp or the pretend games. If not, come the live shooting spell Mack a lot on early downs to keep him healthy, then come October trade him a la Von Miller. In Chicago's position I don't see any real difference between a draft choice this year or one in '23. Granted, doing it this way would certainly be a gamble.

10 For one half of football,…

For one half of football, the Bears trade for Mack looked like the greatest deal in team history. Then Green Bay adjusted, Rodgers came back, Trubisky couldn't move the ball, and the world spun back on its axis. For the next four years, Mack was a very good player on a good but rarely dominant defense. 

It's pretty clear that Poles thinks this roster sucks and needs to be torn down to the studs and rebuilt, and he needs draft capital and cap room for that. As a Bears fan, I wish he had gotten more, but I assume he listened to multiple offers and decided this was the best. I also assume Quinn and anyone else over 27 they can get anything for will follow Mack out the door.

It's going to be a tough couple (more) years in Chi-town. 

11 Are Bears fans just resigned…

Are the Bears and their fans just resigned to the idea that Fields is a bust and it's over for him?

I guess, given how much they invested in acquiring him, I would have thought they would have gone all out to ensure his success, ie offensive minded coach, being active in free agency at receiver and at the o line, not taking apart you defense etc etc.

13 But this trade is not…

But this trade is not inconsistent with going all-in on Fields. You don't need a good D to develop a QB. A plan could be:

1. Dump any defensive vets you can get anything for.
2. Use the salary room to sign multiple OL and WR.
3. Use the picks to supplement the offensive FA signings and start rebuilding the D.
4. Lose 35-31 for a while until the rebuilt D matures.

I'm not saying that's what Poles is actually doing, but it could be. If Fields gets traded next week, obviously not.

16 Yeah, between the age of…

Yeah, between the age of some of these guys on defense and the contracts that Pace saddled them with, they would be stuck with a defensive unit in long-term decline either way and one that would be constraining them from building up the offensive infrastructure around Fields. They just need to make sure they do at least a little something at OL and WR this offseason to make sure they don't grind Fields into dust next season and keep his development on track.

14 My thoughts

Chicago needs multiple pass catchers (including a true number one WR) and upgrades at offensive line before we can begin speaking of them as a functional offense. Unless Fields is a star right away with fresh coaching, a dubious prospect for even the most optimistic fan, I doubt he can overcome the roster's paucity of NFL-caliber talents. Too, they have a drastic shortage of draft picks. It's way too early to call him a bust, obviously. The reality is that, outside of a handful of QBs, few players could overcome the straitened circumstances in which Pace left this roster. Best case is, they bring in a few more capable veterans to catch passes, while Fields learns to harness his athleticism to a more efficient level of play (fewer sacks, TOs) with improved blocking and a better scheme. (That's me defending the transaction rationally, in a decidedly irrational league where teams come out of nowhere every year. This move may well be proven overly hasty or foolish, depending on how well the Bears compete without Mack. We will see.) 

Of course, I am assuming they will add some pieces and not simply cut, cut, cut. If I'm wrong, and they fail to add anything of value this offseason, forget what I said above. That will tell me that they see little reason for optimism in Fields as the future franchise player--and that would be cause for consternation, because I don't think anyone can determine that as of yet. (Personally, I saw enough from him to be hopeful about the future in terms of downfield-passing ability, elusiveness, and what I'll call strength of self-belief in the face of dismal coaching.) As of now, I'm willing to believe this was a classic "move the aging veteran before he irremediably declines" transaction from a new GM starved for picks. I have no idea if he's right about Mack.      


15 Cohen waived with failed physical.

RBSDM but Bears are thinner again. Trevathan expected to be cut. Goldman possibly traded.

Interesting time to tear things down after getting a rookie QB contract. Be bad but have plenty of cap space to overpay people to come to your bad team as the QB gets slightly more expensive each year? And by the time the rebuild is sorta ready Fields has to be paid? Bears gonna bear.