OAKLAND, Calif. — A Raiders franchise guided by coach Jon Gruden, quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack was scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas in 2020. Scratch the last name.
In a colossal, once-unthinkable trade, the Raiders have reshaped their franchise’s foundation, sending Mack to the Chicago Bears for a package featuring a pair of first-round draft picks. This follows months of slow and unproductive negotiations between the Raiders and Mack’s agent, Joel Segal, on a contract extension.
The Raiders acquired Chicago’s selections in the 2019 first and sixth rounds, and 2020 first and 2020 third rounds. Along with Mack, they parted with a second-round pick and conditional fifth-round choice, both in 2020.
The blockbuster trade culminated less than 24 hours after the Los Angeles Rams announced a historic extension for defensive tackle Aaron Donald. On Friday morning, he became the richest defender in NFL history upon signing a six-year extension worth $135 million, including $87 million in guarantees.
By Saturday afternoon, Mack surpassed him. He and the Bears reached a six-year, $141 million deal with $90 million guaranteed.
Khalil Mack receives the contract he deserved. https://t.co/ICY7LdN4Th
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 1, 2018
Such a contract would have hamstrung the Raiders on their books, given they already carry Carr and his five-year, $125 million extension from June 2017. Even so, the expectation was the team would find a way. As recently as Thursday, one club official was dismissive toward the idea of trading Mack. The Raiders knew his value.
Gruden called him the team’s “best player.”
Carr called him his “brother.”
But Donald’s deal catalyzed Mack’s movement. Given the nature of extension talks between the Raiders and Segal, the club opted to collect value for the superstar. Mack became the first NFL defender acquired for multiple first-round picks since 1998 when the Carolina Panthers traded the Washington Redskins two as compensation to sign defensive tackle Sean Gilbert.
The Raiders drafted Mack in 2014 with the No. 5 overall pick in the first round. Carr was their second-round choice.
“I think it’s fair to say that we would all love to have Khalil here,” Carr said on July 27 after the first practice of training camp. “If I tried to answer it politically correct and all those things — we all know that we want him back. I think everyone feels that in our whole building. We all know that when it comes to how things are done and all of that, I don’t go into that. I have been in contact with him. He’s my brother. We came in the same class. We’re going to leave together some day.
“I’m fully confident with where Khalil is at and where our team is at. Obviously we want him back, but again I try not to step into that. He was over at the house, and we didn’t talk about it one time.”
Under Segal’s guidance, Mack, 27, held out for months, not practicing since Gruden was hired in January.
His absence forced the team to move on. Naturally, it moved forward, developing three young, athletic pass rushers from its draft — defensive tackle P.J. Hall, defensive end Arden Key and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst — and continuing with veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin.
Mack totaled 36½ sacks and nine forced fumbles the past three years with Irvin as his teammate. Irvin presumably awoke to the news Saturday.
“No (expletive) way,” Irvin wrote on Twitter at 7:04 a.m. He followed minutes later: “What a shock. Now move on and win.. time to beat the Rams!!”
The next significant extension on the Raiders’ horizon, although how the player performs this season largely will shape its landscape, involves Amari Cooper. The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver’s rookie deal is due to expire after the 2019 season. His agent is Segal, too.