Woke up yesterday morning to hear the Bears acquired Khalil Mack for two first rounders and later signed him to a 6-year, $141 million contract.
Have to admit Chicago had the gall to do it as the Bears have been irrelevant to the NFL for the past 5 seasons and being in the NFC North cellar by a wide margin from Minnesota, Detroit, and Green Bay. Of course, this move will make Chicago a threat in the division and make the NFC North go back to having that old NFC Norris feel of being the Black & Blue division as all four teams have high expectations in 2018.
So, what are my thoughts of the trade for both teams and such?
For the Bears
It makes them an instant threat in the NFC North and hopes for a division championship. Chicago hopes the Bears defense is returning to the old Monsters of the Midway mentality or even when the Bears had Urlacher, Briggs, etc. And yep. Adding Mack with top draft pick Roquan Smith should help. Chicago has to hope the secondary (which was great) can get turnovers (ranked 29th last year in INT’s). And they are hoping Mack’s pressuring and terrorizing quarterbacks will help spike that turnover rate. You have to think Chicago’s defense propels them as the best in the division and if not in the top 5 in the NFL, very close to it.
Mitch Trubisky will have to take a major leap in his 2nd year if the Bears want to be a Super Bowl contender. I’ve been harsh on Trubisky since his days at North Carolina and don’t see how he is considered a franchise quarterback. In wins at UNC he looked sharp, but in losses, a different story, especially to Virginia Tech and Stanford, where they both had stout defenses. Last year, nothing screamed out of him being a “QB for the future” in Chicago. And watching him play last year it didn’t have any vibe that he would be a guy that could get Chicago to the promised land. Even his lone 300+ game was marred with 3 INT’s against Detroit. “But, but he has better weapons now! They signed Robinson, Gabriel, and Burton! And they still have Cohen and Howard!” To the Cohen and Howard part, agreed. Those guys can be one of the best 1-2 backfield tandems in the NFL. And they gave him a bevvy of weapons, which I think was solid. But to play devil’s advocate: one is coming off a torn ACL (Robinson), another going from the slot to a bigger role of secondary receiver (Gabriel) and the other one hasn’t played many snaps and wasn’t a starter at any point not to mention mostly being a special teams guy. “If that’s the case, he can be a game manager!” IF Chicago becomes a running team big time (which they can) then he most certainly could be a game manager, but he needs to be accurate and at times to which he really wasn’t. I mean if Mark Sanchez can get to a conference championship in back-to-back seasons then Trubisky most definitely can. But if you are trying to rely on Trubisky’s arm, that’s where things may head south for Chicago. “But he’s a great team leader!” Good for a game manager, yes. But Bucs players have said the same thing on Jameis Winston too. So I think if the Bears are to get where the fans hope they can get, Trubisky will have to be a QB with a 65% accuracy rate and have a good TD/INT ratio and that means anything less than 14 INT would suffice. Anything more, and that’s a problem. But either way Trubisky has to step up big time this year if the Bears are to really be a threat.
The Bears didn’t overpay but overpaid for Mack. Let me explain what I mean. I think the two first rounders are fine and overall they got a couple picks coming back (late rounders) so I think they fleeced Oakland in that regard. But 6 years, $141 for a defensive player…that’s a lot and it sometimes backfires (think Suh for Miami). Somebody made a comment on Twitter saying if you are going to get key players, get them when your franchise QB is still on his rookie deal. Chicago did the right thing there. However, that may really be sticky points when the likes of Floyd, Howard, and others come up on their contract deals and are looking to get more money from the Bears. With all of that said, Mack is a top 5 defensive player in this league without question and already snagged a Defensive Player of the Year trophy just 2 years ago. And he is a franchise guy. So the overpaying of him may be worth it.
For the Raiders
Jon Gruden is running things and maybe running the Raiders into the ground already. Reggie McKenzie would have probably done more I think to keep Khalil Mack and McKenzie’s comments may have shown he really isn’t the guy that has the final say on moves. Gruden’s comments of saying “well, we weren’t very good with him on defense last year” was pretty much a sign that Gruden didn’t want Mack around. Gruden is a good coach, don’t get me wrong, but that Tampa Bay Super Bowl run was won by Tony Dungy players on defense (Brooks, Sapp, Rice, Lynch, Barber, etc.). Gruden was more inclined to put a Bucs having a pretty little offense, even over a championship defense like they had in 2002. And after those players started to age and/or leave, Tampa Bay was a middle-of-the-road team with Gruden. Bottom line is, you don’t trade away a top 5 defensive player even for two first round picks like that. Ever.
Reggie McKenzie is a lame duck. As I said, I feel like McKenzie would have done more to keep Mack in the fold had it not been for Gruden, but given how Gruden has a “Raider for life” contract now, it makes McKenzie somewhat inept. It’s what Gruden says that will go, not McKenzie. They may get two very good picks pending on where Chicago finishes in the season especially if they still don’t see a playoff spot, but will there be a franchise guy at pick 18? It’s possible, but not probable.
The Raiders may be worse on defense than last year. Khalil Mack played every game in his career and has been healthy. His reputation with the Raiders was stellar and nobody has a bad thing to say on the guy. And even though his numbers fell a little bit, he still had double-digits in sacks (10.5, just .5 off from his season in 2016) through double teams. The moves they made on defense isn’t appealing at all and Oakland could end up with having the worst defense in the NFL.
Overall I think Chicago fleeced Oakland badly in this trade. It propels the Bears out of the NFC doldrums and into the thick of it, though I still think there is a piece missing or two, but overall it is what the Bears needed. The Raiders, why? From all accounts it seems like Gruden never wanted Mack around in the first place and that to me is very dumbfounding. But hey, time will tell what happens with this trade. But right now, gah.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat