I’d be feeling bad about my repeated assertions that the Oakland Raiders had no intentions of trading Khalil Mack, were it not for the very public agreement with me from the team’s own franchise player, QB Derek Carr, who tweeted quite simply, “No way.”
Our only disagreement is that Carr said it after the trade became public.
How can this be happening? It’s a tale of two cities and their NFL franchises.
Mark Davis is the least-qualified team owner in the NFL, and the Raiders have been building toward this kind of dysfunction ever since Davis began chasing his wanderlust for the city of Las Vegas.
Be careful what you wish for, Vegas.
Jon Gruden, the second-least deserving of any of the NFL’s 32 head coaches of a 10-year, $100 million contract — we can’t put even Gruden in Hue Jackson’s league — has his fingerprints all over this, too, but most of my sources are reporting if the results of this deal go south, he will have the Raiders' financial limitations to use as cover and the facts to back it up.
Now let’s welcome Bears general manager Ryan Pace and team chairman George McCaskey to the spotlight.
For McCaskey, the 2018 offseason and preseason have gone from promising and exciting to the next best thing to winning a Super Bowl as it climaxes with this trade: Mack, a 2020 second-rounder and a '20 conditional fifth-rounder for two first-rounders, a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder.
The Bears' boss was on a prolonged losing streak until the past eight months. After taking over as the Chairman of the Board in 2011, he fired general manager Jerry Angelo following that season and replaced him with Phil Emery.
McCaskey then allowed Emery to fire Lovie Smith following a 10-6 season and replace him with Marc Trestman.
Although Emery and Trestman proved to be two of the worst hires in Bears history, McCaskey did identify the mistakes quickly and pulled the plug on both after just two seasons into Trestman's tenure.
McCaskey’s next hire of general manager, Ryan Pace, was lauded as bold and culture changing as Pace became the youngest GM in the league, but then the groupthink between those two and team president Ted Phillips that made John Fox the next head coach evolved into another stink bomb.
But in allowing Pace this offseason to seek a potential clone of himself in head coach’s garb, Matt Nagy, and then sitting back as they assembled an all-star coaching staff and completely rebuilt the offensive philosophy and roster to execute it, McCaskey and his charges got Bears Nation buzzing in a way it hasn’t in almost a decade.
Pace’s efforts to date in Chicago have been a mixed bag, but saddled with the NFL’s worst locker room and possibly its least talented roster when he took over and a dud of a hire with his first head coach, patience with him has been a requirement.
The first signs that Pace might have some unique qualities as a GM came when he paid dearly — and in this writer’s opinion overpaid — to get the quarterback his franchise has been missing since Sid Luckman in the '40s.
Whether Mitch Trubisky proves to be that guy or not remains to be seen, but the stones Pace showed acquiring him, and the commitment and steadfastness he’s shown attempting to build his empire around Trubisky over the past year-plus stamped him for the first time as one to watch among NFL executives.
With this trade for Mack, Pace has now become one of the biggest stories in the NFL for the foreseeable future and potentially moved the Bears from perennial cellar dweller to instant contender, although that story still needs writing.
I’m sorry, guys, I can’t evaluate the actual trade and predict the ramifications until we know exactly what the Bears are paying for Mack. The last can’t-miss trade costing the Bears two first-round picks was for Jay Cutler.
I also don’t want to cop out, though, and I can tell you that I think this is a huge win for the Bears — but the devil is always in the details.
The one thing we do know for sure for now is I’d much rather be Ryan Pace, George McCaskey or a Bears fan today than Mark Davis, Jon Gruden or a citizen of Raiders Nation.
And Derek Carr agrees.