You’ve already seen the headlines. It’s certainly not “news” to anyone now that Khalil Mack and the Raiders have gotten nowhere in their contract talks. People already know that he’s sat out the entire offseason so far, and is about to rack up $1.6 million in total fines from a holdout with no end in sight. What is news however, is the fact that according to Sportsline.com the Bears are now officially tied with the 2nd best odds at a 5/1 shot to land 2016’s Defensive Player of the Year. Already possessing a top 10 defense, the Bears are suddenly seen as a potential frontrunner to acquire the 3 time all pro. Still sitting at 3/1, the Raiders are the odds-on favorite to retain him for 2018, but as time goes on and rumors start to swirl, that’s starting to seem less and less likely. Unfortunately for the Bears, the other team with 5/1 odds is arch rival Green Bay. If the Bears could pry the (quite possibly) best pass rusher in the league away from Oakland it could bring our defense from good to great. Having him starting opposite of Leonard Floyd would make every person on our defense better. With all that being said you better believe he won’t come cheap, and with the Packers sitting on two 2019 1st round picks we would certainly need to get creative with any offer we made. Oakland also still has multiple years of control with Mack through the 5th year of rookie contract and the option to use multiple franchise tags to hold onto their stalwart. Whatever package we put together would have to not only blow the Raiders away, but also top Green Bay’s potential offer of both their 1st round picks in this upcoming draft. Doing that automatically starts with our next two 1st rounders and then some. Ryan Pace also needs to play a bit of defense here by boxing out the Packers and preventing what would be an absolute nightmare scenario. The Packers defense is questionable now, but put Khalil Mack on that team and they’re instantly brought to a whole other level. Imagine having to face Aaron Rodgers on offense, and then Khalil Mack on defense. Now imagine doing that twice a year. That absolutely cannot happen if we want to have any hope of winning the division. So with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at what a potential offer for Mack would look like:
2019 & 2020 1st round picks, 2020 3rd round pick, Prince Amukamara
As I said before, any offer we make begins with our next two 1st round picks. On top of that we would probably need to add another pick and then a player. In this scenario we send Amukamara, now a savvy veteran at corner to a suspect Raiders secondary. Bringing his experience and leadership into a defensive backs room with Gareon Conley could do a lot for that team. The former 1st round pick has struggled to live up to his draft hype, and for a player with some character questions bringing in a guy like Amukamara to mentor him could go a long way for his development. The 3rd round pick just sweetens the pot a bit in a potential bidding way with the Packers.
2019 & 2020 1st round picks + James Daniels
The only way we can avoid giving up too much draft capital is by giving up some young talent. Picking a young, high caliber player for this scenario is never fun, but to get a player like Mack you’re going to have to move some prime assets. For a Bears team still somewhat devoid of top-end talent to offer, picking one from a relatively deeper group makes sense. Eric Kush will never be a world beater, but he has proven he can start when necessary. Having him play with the 1st team isn’t so hard to stomach knowing you have Harry Hiestand as his position coach and will get Khalil Mack on the other side of the ball.
2019 & 2020 1st round picks, 2020 2nd & 3rd round picks
This one leaves the cupboards pretty bare as far as draft picks for the foreseeable future, but it doesn’t trade any young talent away. This options assumes that Ryan Pace is confident with the roster he has built to this point and thinks they’re one move like this away from a championship. If our offense lives up to its lofty expectations, then we very well might be. This move is slight reminiscent of what the Rams gave up to get Jared Goff, and that seems to have paid off rather well for them.
The question going through many heads after reading all this will likely be “is all this worth it?” and the answer to that question is yes. While giving up draft capital like this is always risky, doing it for a guy like Khalil Mack isn’t really a risk. A guy with 40.5 sacks, 3 all pro selections, 3 pro bowls, a DPOY award, who’s been selected 1st team all pro at 2 separate positions in the same season, all in his first 4 years is worth almost any price. Getting an opportunity at a talent like this is extremely rare and can truly change a franchise. With Pace’s history of hitting on late round draft picks, the thought of losing out on two 1st rounders becomes an easier pill to swallow. Especially for a franchise as starved for wins as this in a season where we’re supposed to be turning the corner. Pace has certainly said he wants to build through the draft, but at a certain point you have to stop playing the long game letting young talent gain experience, and start going into win now mode. With the free agency period we just had, all signs are pointing to the Bears making that shift. Let’s hope this is the next domino to fall into place.
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