RIGHT now, (when you ask about it), this is what people think: Oakland got two first round picks, while Chicago got DE Khalil Mack and a double-doink knockout, in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. That’s true, but it’s massively oversimplified. The Raiders may have just pulled off the second Great Trade Robbery.
If the Raiders were a playoff team, they’d see both more and deeper media coverage (like they used to). If that were the case then “professional” reporters may have done their job, and taken a closer look at that trade, when it happened.
Thank goodness, you have me.
A few months back, I wrote about the Bears/Raiders trade, in an article called “OH THEM HIDDEN FEES!” In that article I said, even if the Bears make four quick playoff exits, then the trade is still a successful one, because it unseats Green Bay, and makes Chicago the focal point of their division. But I may have to rethink that.
Much of the national media barely stopped short of calling the Raiders morons, for having parted with Mack. If you read my article, you saw that I didn’t think it was a bad deal for Oakland at all. Quite the contrary! As someone who regularly follows the Raiders, I had a clue as to what was happening there. So I already had a glimpse of their Big Picture. (More about that, down the page.)
After watching Mack get essentially manhandled during the first round of the playoffs by Eagles RT Lane Johnson and what’s left of LT Jason Peters, I decided to look again at Mack’s last two seasons. Just to put my eye on where the trade currently stands.
Remember when I said this was a good trade for Oakland? Well, early returns would suggest that the Raiders pulled a fast one on the Bears.
In 2017 the Bears defense was 9th in points allowed, and 10th in yards allowed. In 2018 they moved to 1st in points allowed, and 3rd in yards allowed. So a top 10 defense became a top 10 defense. Yes, they moved into the top THREE, but you know how these things are divided up. Top 10 is good, middle 10 is meh, and bottom 10 means someone will likely be fired. (Finishing under 30th means someone probably got canned during the season.) Also, the Bears sack number went from 42 to 50. So the Bears moved up. But not really.
Mack himself missed games (two), for the first time in his career. His sack number was 12.5, which is the second best year of his career. However his tackle numbers fell off cliff. After averaging 76 per year for four years, and coming off of a career best 78 in 2017, his tackles fell to 47.
One of the best parts of Mack’s game was that he was also good vs the run, and made plays despite double and triple teams. This clearly hasn’t manifested in Chicago. That means the Bears may be deploying him incorrectly, and thus aren’t getting the player they traded for. Or, they are using him just as the Raiders did, but he can no longer be as effective as he was in Oakland.
In either case, the Bears aren’t getting the player they traded for.
It raises the question of whether or not the Raiders already knew that, when they dealt Mack. Playing 64 straight games of constant double and triple teams. Combine that with four years of practices. Years of things left off the injury report, to not tip the opponent on how to gain an advantage. (Now why would I say something like that?) Did the Raiders already see a decline coming?
What did they know, and when did they know it? All signs point to them knowing plenty, and knowing it very early.
If that’s the case, then the Raiders idea may have been to hose a team, to help turbo-charge their re-build effort. In this way the Raiders could save themselves years of cap space, and parlay a player they didn’t see in their future, into multiple players that may be key components. So in August of 2018, the Raiders asked for TWO first round picks as the price of trading Mack.
The national media essentially laughed at Oakland for asking for a price that no one would be willing to pay. So of course Oakland wound up getting two first-round picks from Chicago (2019 and 2020), AND a 2019 sixth-round pick, as well as a 2020 third-round pick. Instead of hailing the Raiders as shrewd, they were more or less derided for doing what no one thought could happen.
Funny thing is, 49ers GM John Lynch says he offered more. “I continue to (believe that we offered more for Mack). That, at times, leads me to believe, were we ever in consideration? I understand the thought of sending him right across The Bay — I don’t know how that factored in — but it is what it is.”
I agree with Lynch in thinking that the Raiders wanted Mack out of their media market. Besides, the favorable weather in San Fran would only contribute to Mack playing better, thus making the Raiders look dumber for trading him.
However, Chicago, longer grass, in cold weather?That helps hinder any player’s change of direction. Especially for a player with an ankle injury. Especially if he’s been dealing with and possibly concealing lower body damage for a year or so. Why that hint again? His Injury Report for 2017 in Oakland:
Week 1 Did Not Practice (knee).
Week 2 Limited (Not Injury Related).
All DNP. All NIR. Let’s get some context on Mack not practicing during those weeks, in particular.
Going into Week 12, coming off a 8 – 33 loss, with a record of 4-6, same as the Chargers, chasing a 6-5 Chiefs team, why would you not practice your best player, if he’s not hurt? It’s not like you’re resting him for the playoffs! You do it to ease up on an injury that you’re leaving off the books.
The Raiders finished 6-10, missed the playoffs, and subsequently stopped all communication with Mack during the offseason. They went zero dark thirty on him. Then they traded him. And not only did Mack miss practices in 2018, he missed actual games, for the first time in his career.
With a lower body injury.
Are you seeing that Big Picture now? I thought you might.
Some of you may remember the Great Trade Robbery, where Dallas (took it all, socks and drawers, and) left Minnesota nekkid except for flip-flops in the snow.
Well here we go again. Oakland pulled a Dallas.
The Raiders unloaded a sports car with a blown head gasket, now coolant is leaking into the combustion chamber. And the Bears paid through the nose for the thing that happens next.