September 1, 2018. A day that will go down in Bears history as a turning point for the once historic franchise.
Players of Khalil Mack’s caliber do not get traded. Every offseason, 32 NFL teams spend countless hours scouting, interviewing and dissecting college player’s film in the hopes of finding the next Mack.
The Saints, for example, gave up a 2019 first-round pick to move up in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select Marcus Davenport, a raw pass rusher out of UTSA. They believe and hope he will be the next great pass rusher.
The Bears don’t have to hope and pray with Mack.
He is unquestionably one of the greatest pass rushers of this generation. Chicago’s organization doesn’t have to invest hours upon hours into training him up into becoming a double-digit sack guy – he is that player.
The last time the Bears had someone even close to Mack’s caliber was when they signed Julius Peppers in 2010. Peppers was great but was 30 years old when he signed and, clearly, was not the same player at the end of his time in Chicago. Mack, who is only 27, is in the prime of his career and should be for most of his six-year contract.
And let’s talk about that contract for a second.
In addition to joining a new team, Mack also became a very rich man on Saturday. He signed the largest contract ever for a defensive player earning $141 million over six years with $90 million guaranteed.
No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of money. But my question to you and the Raiders organization (looking at you Jon Gruden) is this; if you aren’t willing to give that money to Mack, who are you willing to give that money to?
When discussing best defensive players in the NFL, it really is a two-man race between Mack and Aaron Donald, who held the title of the highest paid defensive player for a few hours. Other players such as Von Miller and JJ Watt (when healthy) are also in consideration, but in my opinion, Mack and Donald are in a league of their own. After all, since 2015 Mack and Donald have the most quarterback pressures in the NFL: Mack with (257) edging out Donald (251) ever so slightly.
For context, if you take the Bears leader in hurries since 2015 (Hicks twice and Pernell McPhee), it adds up to 165. That’s 92 more pressures for Mack. Essentially an extra all-pro season’s worth.
Now, you also have to account for what the Bears gave up to acquire him.
The official trade looks like this:
- Khalil Mack
- 2020 2nd Round pick
- 2020 conditional 5th Round pick
- 2019 1st Round pick
- 2019 6th Round pick
- 2020 1st Round pick
- 2020 3rd Round pick
Any time a team gives up two first-round picks it is a huge investment. Again, Mack is worth it. It also helps that Ryan Pace was able to get a few picks back from the Raiders.
The 2020 second-round pick, which should be fairly high now that Oakland doesn’t have its best player, essentially means the Bears simply traded down in the draft. And if all goes according to plan, the 2020 first-round pick should be at least in the 20s (and maybe 30s).
There’s also this: if Mack were available in next year’s draft, or any draft for that matter, he would unquestionably be the first overall pick, contract and all.
Even though it’s a huge investment, let’s put it this way. Here is a list of some of the Bears’ first-round picks over the last 20 years: Curtis Enis, Cade McNown, David Terrell, Marc Colombo, Michael Haynes, Cedric Benson, Chris Williams, Gabe Carimi, Shea McClellin, Kevin White. Would you trade two of those players for Mack? I would probably trade all 10.
Mack is a player that instantly makes the Chicago Bears better. He’s going to force offensive coordinators to game plan against him allowing players like Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks to wreak havoc in one-on-one situations.
Mack’s pressure rate allows defensive backs to have to cover their man for a shorter period of time. No matter how you look at it, the real winners of this trade are the 10 other defensive players who have the privilege of playing alongside a generational player.
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This trade signals a huge turning point in Chicago Bears history.
Unlike the last few years, opposing teams need to take note when they see the Bears on their schedule. It signals a belief that all the hard work this offseason has paid off. Pace doesn’t make this trade if he has a single doubt about Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy, or anyone inside Halas Hall.
The Bears are officially back.
This might seem like all talk, but Mack has the accolades to back it up. He’s been a Pro-Bowler, All-Pro and NFL defensive player of the year. And now he takes on an even greater title: Chicago Bear.