The Las Vegas Raiders were confident they knew what they were doing. Head coach Jon Gruden wasn’t interested in paying Khalil Mack a massive new contract. As it became clear the defensive star was ready to sit out, the Raiders made a momentous decision. They traded him to the Chicago Bears. Gruden seemed satisfied with the return. A pair of 1st round picks, a 3rd round pick, and a 6th round pick for Mack, a 2nd, and a 7th.
Not only did the Raiders save a ton of money against the salary cap, they secured enough high-end draft capital to rapidly infuse their roster with young, cheap talent. Unfortunately, the Bears didn’t entirely cooperate. That first year Mack helped them to a 12-4 record, winning the division. This led Las Vegas to collect just the 24th pick in the 1st round. Then in 2019, Chicago went 8-8. That led to the 19th pick in the 2020 draft.
Two 1st rounders. Neither of them even in the top 15. This after the Raiders were certain the Bears wouldn’t be very good. Now that most of the dust has settled on the trade. The outlook doesn’t look too favorable for them.
- Khalil Mack
- 2020 second-round pick (tight end Cole Kmet at No. 43)
- 2020 seventh-round pick (offensive lineman Arlington Hambright at No. 226)
- 2019 first round (running back Josh Jacobs at No. 24 by Raiders)
- 2019 sixth round (cornerback Blessuan Austin at No. 196 by Jets)
- 2020 first round (cornerback Damon Arnette at No. 19 by Raiders)
- 2020 third round (receiver Bryan Edwards at No. 81 by Raiders)
Mack has 30 sacks in the past three seasons, making three Pro Bowls for the Bears. They’ve made the playoffs twice and never had a losing season. Along that same timeline, the Raiders have not made the playoffs once and had a losing season twice. Thus far the only quality player they seem to have gotten from that trade is Jacobs. He’s topped 1,000 yards rushing each of his first two years and made the Pro Bowl in 2020.
Arnette on the other hand? It seems things aren’t going well for the 1st round pick from last year. At all. Check out what Vic Tafur of The Athletic wrote.
“The Raiders drafted cornerback Damon Arnette in the first round last year and got mad when experts said it was a reach. (Sound familiar?) Arnette started seven games, was a little over-aggressive at times and had bouts with COVID-19, injuries and concussions. General manager Mike Mayock mentioned in January that Arnette needed to “apply himself” and to get stronger in the weight room.
Well, after watching minicamp practices Tuesday and Wednesday and talking to people in the building, Arnette has become almost an after-thought.”
Bears have no reason to regret the Khalil Mack trade
He’s been everything advertised for them. A dominant presence off the edge that forces offenses to gameplan for him. People will nitpick his failure to crack 10 sacks each of the past two seasons. It doesn’t matter. Watch the tape and it’s evident the guy is causing problems every single week. He is the best player on the defense and living up to the price paid to get him. Mack is not the problem with this team.
The absence of Khalil Mack in Las Vegas on the other hand? That is a problem. Between 2015 and 2017, the Raiders defense averaged 31.33 sacks per season. After he left, that number dropped to 22 over the next three years. While the pass rusher may not have made their defense great by himself, he was at least keeping it from completely falling apart. Something that has clearly happened since he left.
Arnette was supposed to help fix that problem.
That clearly hasn’t happened. Thus Las Vegas continues searching for solutions. Meanwhile, the Bears can continue to trust their own defense will remain solid moving forward even as certain pieces change. With Mack coming off the edge, they should be okay. This is what happens when you have a probable Hall of Fame talent on your roster.