The Chicago Bears are not the only team in the league with a prominent linebacker missing from training camp this year. The Oakland Raiders and new head coach John Gruden are currently involved in a contract dispute with All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
The dispute has reached the point to where the Raiders are could contemplate trading Mack, and if so, the Bears need to inquire.
Mack is arguably the best pass-rushing linebacker in the league right alongside Von Miller and would be a tremendous boost to the Bears pass rush and at the outside linebacker position. The addition of the perennial Pro-Bowler would transform defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s defense into one of the best defenses in the league. It would also give the Bears the best starting linebacker squad in the league of Leonard Floyd, Mack, Danny Trevathan, and Roquan Smith when he ends his hold out.
In the last three years, Mack has registered 36.5 sacks with the Raiders including eight multi-sack games. His presence would also help Floyd improve his ability to rush the passer also as Floyd would most likely not face any double teams when rushing the quarterback. Opposing offensive coordinators, would have to pick which of the two to focus blocking assignments to. The biggest concern surrounding the Bears defense this past off-season was how they were going to generate pressure with the departure of linebackers Willie Young, Lamarr Houston, and Pernell McPhee.
Furthermore, Mack would be a perfect fit in Fangio’s 3-4 defensive scheme as he would have fellow teammates to draw blocking schemes from opposing offenses. On the defensive line, both defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive end Akiem Hicks would draw be able to draw the attention of offensive linemen while Mack could face only single blocks instead of double teams.
If the Bears were to trade for the Raiders’ best defensive player, it would cost them on two fronts. First, Oakland would probably want a huge return for trading Mack which could involve either high draft picks or even young talent. If draft picks are involved, The Bears would most likely have to part with their 2019 first round selection and possibly multiple other high round picks, including their 2020 second round pick.
The second front would be negotiating a long-term and lucrative deal with Mack. Being both a perennial All-Pro and Pro-Bowler, he will most likely want to be one of the top defensive paid player in the league. General manager Ryan Pace already has a lot of cap money tied up at the cornerback position, and could really come close to maxing out the Bears cap space with a large contract for Mack.
The decision, although possibly costly, could pay huge dividends for Bears as the team could win with defense and not need Matt Nagy’s offense to be as explosive. A strong defense creating more turnovers and limiting drives would give the offense more opportunities with the ball and better field position.
At the moment, it still appears highly unlikely that the Raiders would be willing to part with Mack, but it is an important issue to keep an eye on. The Bears themselves need to resolve their holdout with rookie linebacker Smith before focusing anywhere else. If the Raiders do decide to trade Mack, it would be foolish for Pace not to call as a possible deal would change the landscape in the NFC North right before the start of the season.