The Raiders weren’t willing to pay the price to keep Khalil Mack, so he’s going to show them the cost of trading him.
Mack gets his first shot at his old team Sunday when the Bears face the Raiders in London, and while he was restrained in his comments about them, it was clear Tuesday he intends to make his point.
His face lit up when he was asked if he has any feeling of “vindictiveness.”
“Vindictiveness? I like that word,” Mack said, smiling. “You can’t play this game with too much emotion. Ultimately, I try to stay focused on the task at hand, understanding the situation.
“Absolutely there’s feelings that you suppress, but it’s also no big deal to me. I’m here. I love the Bears. We’re gonna go out and try to get this win.”
It seems more likely that Mack would feed off a desire for revenge than set it aside, and eventually he admitted it’s driving him.
“Yeah, man. You can’t tell?” he said. “You could say I’m suppressing the emotional side, but the other side is to go out and make them pay for it.”
One might think coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders suffered enough after they went 4-12 last season and watched Mack vault the Bears into the playoffs while earning All-Pro honors, but Mack will be the judge of that.
The Raiders decided he wasn’t worth his market value and dealt him just before the start of last season; almost immediately after the trade, he signed a six-year, $141 million extension with the Bears that included $90 million guaranteed. The Bears were more than happy to pay up, both in terms of cash and assets, and haven’t regretted it for a second. They traded their 2019 and 2020 first-round picks, a 2020 third-rounder and a 2019 sixth-rounder to get Mack, as well as a second-rounder and conditional fifth-rounder in the 2020 draft.
Since acquiring him, the Bears are 15-5, have allowed the fewest points and second-fewest yards in the NFL and lead the league with 44 takeaways and 67 sacks. Mack leads the NFL with 10 forced fumbles and is fifth with 17 sacks in that span.
There’s no question he won the argument over his worth.
“I mean, you could talk all day, man, but I ain’t a talker,” he said when asked if the last two seasons have been validation of his asking price. “I just want to go out and show it. And I’m going to let that be that.”
Mack dreamed of spending his entire career with the Raiders, who drafted him fifth overall in 2014. He was an All-Pro twice with them, as well as defensive player of the year.
“That’s the expectation, man. When you get drafted to a team, you want to be there for the long haul and bring championships and all those good things,” he said. “It’s the business side of it that doesn’t really let you do that.”
Mack said he and quarterback Derek Carr spearheaded an effort to turn the Raiders around, and said it was disappointing when it became clear the team didn’t value him enough to sign him long-term. He still considers Carr “a brother.”
“I love him,” Mack said, “but it’s going to be fun to compete against him this week.”
Other than a few revealing lines, Mack stuck to his “just another game” script throughout his chat with reporters Tuesday. Truthfully, he doesn’t need any additional motivation. He seems to do just fine against whomever he plays.
But those close to him know he’s been waiting for this one.
“I’m sure it’s in the back of his mind,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “He doesn’t really get too [caught up] in it. He just works like a pro.
“I know I want to get it for him. I know the guys on defense want to get it for him. I know he’s gonna be ready. There’s no doubt in my mind.”