Bears acquire Raiders superstar Khalil Mack in trade
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When the Bears traded Saturday for Raiders star edge rusher Khalil Mack, they kicked open the window for playoff contention and, they hope, returned a once-proud franchise to relevance.
They paid dearly to do so, both in cash and draft capital. They traded their first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third-rounder in 2020 and a sixth-rounder in 2019 for Mack, who was holding out. The Bears will receive the Raiders’ second-round pick and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2020.
Hours after agreeing to the framework of the deal, the Bears made official a six-year, $141 million contract extension that will pay Mack $90 million guaranteed and $60 million at signing. Mack is the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, eclipsing Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who got $87 million in guarantees and $135 million for a six-year deal less than 24 hours earlier.
It was Donald’s signing that set a financial depth coach Jon Gruden’s Raiders were unwilling to swim in. Late Friday, the Raiders began fielding serious offers for Mack, the No. 5 pick of the 2014 draft. General manager Reggie McKenzie told reporters in Oakland that ‘‘more than half the league’’ inquired, but the Raiders wanted to deal with a team that could send them a potentially high first-round pick in 2019.
The trade is a risk the Bears, one of the few teams with the salary-cap room to take on Mack, are thrilled to take. Players of Mack’s skill level — 36½ sacks in three Pro Bowl seasons in 2015-17 — and lack of baggage are rarely, if ever, available at any price.
Chairman George McCaskey opened the Bears’ checkbook, hoping to capitalize on the flexibility afforded by quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s rookie-contract salary. Trubisky has three full seasons left, plus a team option, before his bill comes due.
‘‘We are excited to add a special playmaker like Khalil to our football team,’’ Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in a statement. ‘‘He brings a ton on the field, but he really fits what we are building in our locker room, too.
‘‘Elite defensive players in their prime are rare, so when we knew we had a legit shot to acquire him, we did everything we thought necessary to get him. I’m confident the compensation to Oakland, including the return draft picks to us, and the contract extension for Khalil are fair to all parties.’’
Pace and Mack will meet the media Sunday at Halas Hall. Mack, who is technically on the Bears’ reserve list, hasn’t practiced all camp. Still, he might contribute Week 1 against the Packers.
Mack, 27, represents the Bears’ most significant addition since they signed defensive end Julius Peppers to a six-year, $91.5 million deal in 2010. The trade is one of the boldest in recent league history. The last time any team dealt two first-round picks for an active player, the Bears received quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos.
The Cutler trade is a cautionary tale, but Mack is in a different stratosphere. He could be the next defensive player to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the franchise.
His versatility — in 2015, Mack became the first player named first-team All-Pro at outside linebacker and defensive end — will be used brilliantly by coordinator Vic Fangio. Mack will start opposite Leonard Floyd at outside linebacker but can put his hand on the ground on passing downs.
Mack’s departure stunned his former Raiders teammates. Defensive end Arden Key tweeted an emoji of a face palm, and linebacker Bruce Irvin wrote three words: ‘‘No [expletive] way.’’
Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara retweeted Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s more family-friendly ‘‘No way’’ and included a smiley face.
‘‘Way,’’ Amukamara wrote.