The longer Raiders superstar Khalil Mack’s holdout edges closer to the regular season, the more realistic a previously inconceivable trade of the generational talent becomes. It’s where former NFL and NBA agent Joel Corry - who writes for CBS Sports - believes that the Bears are a potential destination for the 27-year-old defensive wrecking ball in the event of a move.
There are many theories as to why the Raiders aren’t budging on giving Mack the extension he desires as he enters the fifth-year option season of his rookie contract. The returning Jon Gruden supposedly values other players more as the two haven’t spoken since Gruden took the head coaching job back in January. That makes this one of the most perplexing subplots of this NFL summer. A subplot a team like the pass rush needy Bears could take advantage of.
Corry had interesting thoughts on Mack’s potential fit and $13.94 million dollar cap hit in 2018 in a place like Chicago:
The Bears haven’t had a dominant pass rusher from the edge since future Hall of Famer Julius Peppers was released after the 2013 season. Peppers played in three Pro Bowls during his four seasons in Chicago. Adding a top-of-the-market defensive-player contract isn’t a problem for the Bears, since quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is in the second year of a fully-guaranteed four-year rookie contract totaling just over $29 million. The Bears are one of six teams with more than $25 million of existing cap space, with approximately $26.15 million of room.
It should be noted that Corry primarily listed the Bears as one of five teams in the running for Mack due to their tremendous edge rush need opposite Leonard Floyd. And because Chicago can easily stomach a $13.8 million dollar cap hit in 2018 with roughly $26 million in current cap space according to Over The Cap. Cap room that’s present due to Mitchell Trubisky’s rookie deal: which goes back to a need to maximize the financial space the Bears have while their supposed franchise quarterback is at his cheapest. A player like Mack would place Chicago in theoretical prime championship contention during that contract window.
Corry’s assertion, however, wasn’t related to the Bears being a frontrunner for Mack’s services, as there are no murmurs he’s on the trade block just yet.
It should be noted that the rival Packers were also included on Corry’s list for mostly the same pass rush need and cap flexibility reasons: creating the potential for a bidding war should Oakland relent and trade their best player in decades.
In the event of a Mack trade, Corry also spoke with former Eagles and Browns executive Joe Banner about logistics on the market. Naturally, you can expect giving up a king’s ransom to acquire a player with 40.5 sacks and a Defensive Player of the Year honor in the last four years.
“I think the range is a 1, 3 and 7 on the low end to two 1s on the high end. A lot also depends on how high the 1 is. Maybe it’s a 1 and 2 if it’s fairly high, or two 1s if it’s lower,” said Banner. “Maybe a team would be smart to include a 1 with a quality player. Or a 1, a middle pick and a quality player. He (Mack) is as good or better than any of the players we have seen involved in these kind of trades.”
Right now, the Bears don’t possess a second round selection in next April’s draft after trading up for Anthony Miller this spring. It would likely take an established player and at least a first round pick for any deal to materialize based on Banner’s parameters. And even then, without knowing where the picks lie, teams like the Bears and Packers would likely be reluctant to give up a tremendous haul unless they have assurances of a Mack extension.
Trading Hall of Fame level players in their prime doesn’t happen often in the NFL, if ever. A trade involving Mack, especially one to the Bears, is tantalizing but still incredibly unlikely. Stranger things have happened, though.
Robert is an editor, writer, and producer for Windy City Gridiron, The Rock River Times, The Athletic Chicago, and other fine places. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.