- The Oakland Raiders’ decision to trade Khalil Mack already looks like a bad one.
- In two games with the Chicago Bears, Mack has looked like a dominant defensive force, compiling better defensive statistics than the Raiders have as an entire team.
- Even with the draft picks the Raiders got for Mack, the chances of drafting a generational talent like Mack are low, making the trade a constant source of conversation while the team struggles.
After two weeks, it’s clear who won the Khalil Mack trade, and it’s not the Oakland Raiders.
It’s a move that may be discussed in the NFL world for years to come. After Mack held out of training camp to sign a new deal, the Raiders shipped him to the Chicago Bears for a 2019 and 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2019 sixth-round pick. The Raiders also gave up a 2020 second-round pick.
Even for a considerable draft haul, one only needs to watch Mack’s performance on the field with the Bears the last two weeks to know the Bears won the deal.
In two games, Mack has racked up 8 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and a touchdown. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the best edge defender in the NFL so far this season, all while he’s played limited snaps.
In Week 1, Mack reminded the NFL what a dominant force he could be. With Aaron Rodgers sidelined, Mack got to backup quarterback DeShone Kizer and took the ball away from him easily.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 10, 2018
He made a similar play in Week 2 on Russell Wilson, bowling through Seattle’s offensive line, then reaching around a defender to strip Wilson.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 18, 2018
And then there’s the Raiders.
The Raiders have performed reasonably well in two games. They competed with the star-studded Los Angeles Rams for the first half of Week 1 before the Rams pulled away, then had the Denver Broncos down before the Broncos put together a game-winning drive. A 0-2 start is not good, but they haven’t been embarrassed.
But they’re also a more limited team without the pressure Mack brings. In two games, the Raiders as a team have two sacks and one forced fumble, less than Mack has done by himself. After the Broncos’ Case Keenum picked the Raiders apart on the game-winning drive, Jon Gruden bemoaned the lack of a pass rush. It’s unclear if he was speaking tongue-in-cheek.
Furthermore, on the final drive, the effort from some Raiders players was questionable.
— Taylor Dees (@Play2win47) September 16, 2018
Gruden has insisted the Raiders would have liked to have kept Mack, but it was clear they could not come to terms on a new deal. He has said the team hopes to prove they made the right choice over time.
But in just two games, Mack, a former Defensive Player of the Year who’s just entering his prime, has shown he’s a generational talent. Having a defensive force like Mack would not only help the Raiders’ defence, it helps take pressure off the Raiders offence.
Unless the Raiders manage to find an equal or better talent with one of the picks they received from the Bears, the decision to let go of Mack will likely continue to hang over the franchise in the coming years.
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