September 1st, 2018 was the day the Chicago Bears changed the complexion of the not just the NFC North, but the whole NFL. Leading into the 2018 season, the Chicago Bears defense was already a top-ten unit. All they needed was a truly elite pass rusher. There are not many of those top-of-the-line type players at that position.
Cue Mr. Gruden, who took over the Oakland Raiders at the start of the 2018 offseason. They were planning to start heading in a new direction as a franchise due to that change. The first matter of business was gaining more draft picks to build up the young core of the team. The first guy on Jon Gruden’s mind was Khalil Mack. Tons of different stories floated around about why this happened. Some say Mack wanted out of Oakland. It is really simple though — why trade an elite player like this that makes an impact every single game, who was also in his prime?
For the Bears, this was a huge opportunity to make a splash happen when the news started to circulate. Through all the years, the first thought was “absolutely no chance,” due to the organization’s history of average signings and trades. There was no way this team would pull off an earthshaking trade for Khalil Mack. But what if they did?
For the weeks and even days leading up to that shocking day, fanbases everywhere thought they would be the ones to trade for Mack. At 7:39 am on September 1, 2018, the news was officially made public. So the question stands at this time, where were you when the news dropped?
The trade was finalized as follows:
- 2019 1st-round pick
- 2020 1st-round pick
- 2020 3rd-round pick
- 2019 6th-round pick
- Khalil Mack
- 2020 2nd-round pick
- 2020 5th-round pick(conditional)
Shortly after arriving in Chicago that same day, the Bears signed Mack to a six-year deal worth $141 million. In a way, this was all a steal for the Bears. Players like this do not just get traded away every season. In addition, it’s extremely rare for the team sending away a player of Mack’s caliber away to only get draft picks back. All the credit in the world goes to Ryan Pace and the rest of the Bears front office for getting this done.
A big thank you to the Oakland Raiders and Jon Gruden is also in order. This move truly put the Bears defense over the top last season. They were ranked near the top of every category imaginable. Another huge takeaway from this trade is that Khalil Mack wanted to a part of a team that wanted him. Chicago made that happen. He only had eight days to get ready with the team, but he fit right in with the team in seriously no time. One moment that really exemplified his excitement to be a Bear was when he was asked to do an interview for FOX Sports, he told them would only oblige if he could bring his teammates with him. That is the type of player and person Kahlil Mack truly is.
What does 2019 have in store for Mack and this Bears defense? The NFC North better be ready!
Featured Photo: Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune