Khalil Mack reflects on trade from the Raiders to the Bears originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Before the 2018 season, the Bears swung for the fences and knocked one out of the park.
They traded for Khalil Mack, then the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. The Bears packaged their 2019 first- and sixth-round picks and their 2020 first- and third-round picks for Mack.
Did Mack take the move personally?
“Oh, absolutely. At the time, I took it very personally,” Mack told Chris Long on his podcast Green light. “Understanding, we didn’t have much on defense. I feel like everyone on offense is getting paid. Throughout the whole process, I felt like I didn’t get a lot of help on defense.”
The Raiders tore their organization to pieces during the 2018 offseason.
They moved on from Jack Del Rio and hired Jon Gruden in his place. They traded Mack and, most notably, Amari Cooper to free up cap space. They then made over $80 million in cap space in 2019.
This was the team’s direction after finishing 6-10 during the 2017 season. The season before, they posted a 12-4 record before losing in the AFC wild card game to the Houston Texans. A 2018 season full of disappointment forced them to hit the restart button.
That sent Mack to Chicago.
But not without a caveat due to the Raiders’ preference for their star edge landing spot.
“And they sent me to Chicago, which would probably be the worst option,” Mack said. “I thought San Fran was one of the top offers. I feel like technically they offered the best deal, but they didn’t want to take it from San Fran because they knew what the potential was and what could happen.”
The Raiders knew the 49ers were on the cusp of success.
They had a defense loaded with talent through Fred Warner, DeForest Buckner, Richard Sherman and Jimmie Ward. Handing them Mack would be a death wish in the eyes of the Raiders.
That’s why they sent Mack to Chicago.
Ironically, Mack and the Bears finished with the league’s best defense that season. They allowed 17.6 points per game that season, leading the NFL. They also led the league in turnovers and took the ball away 36 times, 12 more than the second-place Browns.
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