Chicago Bears: Looking back at the Khalil Mack trade

Chicago Bears (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

As the Chicago Bears get ready to face off against the Oakland Raiders in London this week, we take a look back at the Khalil Mack trade.

Going into 2018, expectations for the Chicago Bears was high. Most believed the removal of John Fox was enough to make the team a playoff contender. The defense finished 10th in yards allowed and ninth in points allowed in 2017. Where the team struggled was on offense. This was mostly due to horrible and very predictable play-calling by John Fox.

The team was also void of talent on offense, especially at the wide receiver position. The team was counting on Kevin White, who ended up injured, and Cameron Meredith. Meredith showed some promise in 2016 but had a horrible knee injury in the preseason which ruined his 2017 season. The team also had the likes of Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright and Joshua Bellamy. Yikes.

2018 was different though. The Bears signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel that offseason. Ryan Pace drafted Anthony Miller in the second round. A guy he traded up for by sending the Patriots a 2019 2nd Round pick in return. All of these moves were coupled with the fact Ryan Pace brought in Matt Nagy to be Head Coach while still retaining Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio.

The culture in Chicago was changing within the lockerroom. You could sense it as a fan and the season was anything but boring. They exceeded expectations when they went 12-4 even with their disappointing loss to the Eagles in the playoffs. However, one event took place last year that changed everything. One event that set this course in motion. Ryan Pace traded for Khalil Mack.

I remember the week or so leading up to the trade. Mack was in the middle of his holdout. He demanded to be paid or traded. Oakland just brought back Jon Gruden to coach and run the team as he sees fit. A line in the sand was drawn, but Raiders fans on social media said a trade would never happen. In fact, I had a guy on Twitter who was so confident it would not happen, he was making bets with people.

Fast forward to September 1, 2018. News broke that not only was Khalil Mack traded, but he was traded to the Chicago Bears. I was shocked. I was amazed. I was in awe. At the time, I did not have an outlet to put my opinion out for others to read outside of Twitter, but wow. I mean wow. Even thinking back on it makes me feel as giddy as a child on Christmas morning.

Khalil Mack, arguably the best defensive player in the league, now with my beloved Chicago Bears. It had to be a dream, right? Someone pinch me. Well, us Bears fans saw first-hand last year what a guy like Mack can bring to the team. That top-10 defense became the best defense in the NFL. In fact, it was historically good.

Not all Bears fans were happy though. I heard from a few who said Mack does not impact the team enough. He will only affect the outcome of games to give them one extra win, maybe two. The team will still be only 8-8. I like analytics, but sometimes a player can directly impact games without it showing on stat sheets. Mack is the best defensive player in the NFL right now and even this season. He has done more than even Shaq Barrett despite the stats not showing up on paper.

Other fans and even some analysts thought Ryan Pace traded away too much of the teams’ future for Mack. They gave up two firsts for him. They also traded away a 2019 sixth-round pick and a 2020 third-round pick. However, Pace also received a 2020 second-round pick back from Oakland. The team now has two seconds going into 2020 despite not owning a first-rounder.

Here’s the thing. Mack instantly made this team a Super Bowl contender. They can win with Mitchell Trubisky struggling. They can win with Chase Daniel as their starting quarterback for a couple of weeks. The defense is that good and that has a lot to do with Khalil Mack. His value is exponential and he’s still young. He’s happy here too because he was paid and the team can win.

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This Sunday, Mack will play his old team the Oakland Raiders. He is excited to go up against his friend, Derek Carr. He is excited to show them in person what they gave up by trading him away. I will forever celebrate September 1st for two reasons now. The day my wife and I moved into our “forever” home and the day Khalil Mack officially became a part of the best franchise and fan base in the NFL.