During the offseason, there was much debate over the future of Khalil Mack with the Oakland Raiders as he continued his holdout with the franchise over contract disputes.
Eventually, that situation was solved when the Raiders sent Mack and a 2020 second-round pick to the Chicago Bears for 2019 and 2020 first-round picks, as well as future sixth and third-round selections.
The trade, however, has left Oakland in a bit of a pickle on defense and, as a result, the team sits on a 0-3 record three weeks into the season.
The Raiders have struggled to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks since the departure of Mack, and that’s unlikely to change since the move didn’t do the 2018 Raiders any favors.
Speaking to the media recently, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden reflected on this point, stating that it was hard to trade away the All-Pro linebacker since he was one of the best players at the franchise.
He said, via Yahoo! Sports: “It’s hard. I mean, it’s hard to trade one of your best players, one of the best players on a franchise. It’s hard. It’s hard on the players.
“We didn’t get anything for him that’s going to help us out this year. [Injured nose tackle] Justin Ellis hasn’t played. We have a lot of guys on the defensive line that are out. We have had to replace basically the entire secondary, some of the linebackers.
“We’re in the process of putting the pieces back together. That’ll be exciting. But right now we just have to continue to get ready for each game individually.
“Right now it’s Cleveland. They’re a football team that’s emerging. They’ve drafted a lot of good, young players. It’s starting to show on film. [Baker] Mayfield is the real deal. This young man can play.”
The Raiders won’t begin to see any return on the field for the Mack trade until the 2019 Draft, which makes this season even tougher for the team, especially with how well Mack is playing on his new team.
The linebacker has more sacks (four), forced fumbles (three), fumble recoveries (one) and defensive touchdowns (one) than the entire Raiders defense. While Oakland’s front has 23 total pressures, Mack already has 20 on his own.
The more success Mack has in Chicago, the further the Raiders and Gruden will be scrutinized for making this trade happen. However, we won’t know the true verdict of this trade for many more years.