Khalil Mack

Raiders playing Bears in London means no return of the (Khalil) Mack

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USATSI

Raiders playing Bears in London means no return of the (Khalil) Mack

MOBILE, Ala. – The Raiders have been shipping home games abroad for years now.

The football people don’t love it. Jon Gruden’s a homebody, and prefers to stay put whenever possible. Jack Del Rio didn’t like it, either. Adding another travel date to the schedule makes a season harder. There’s no arguing that.

It is unofficially part of the team’s relocation efforts, conceding to play an extra game away from the East Bay and wherever the Raiders eventually call home in 2019.

This will mark the fourth straight season the Raiders have hosted an international game, and the fifth time in the last six years.

They’ll be going to London this time. The opponent was no surprise.

The Raiders will play the Chicago Bears in London, the NFL announced Monday morning. The exact date and venue will be announced when the schedule’s released this spring.

Playing the Bears far away from home prevents the return of Khalil Mack. Gruden traded the All-Pro edge rusher to Chicago on Sept. 1 for a compensation package that included two first round picks, an unpopular move that signaled the start of a complete roster rebuild.

Moving this game to London avoids the possibility of him wreaking havoc against his old team, pressuring good friend and former teammate Derek Carr in front of a home crowd that loved him so much.

Mack was immensely popular in Oakland and across the Bay Area, a market the Raiders could well play in despite not having a lease to play anywhere in 2019.

Mack’s return would’ve been a huge storyline, and may well have been a primetime offering. Moving the game to London eliminates that prospect as well, given the time difference between England and the United States.

Even still the focus will be on Mack playing the Raiders and a way-to-early progress report on the No. 24 overall NFL draft pick, who will be the first tangible part of the Raiders return in the Khalil Mack trade.

Changing the venue and keeping this an early game should dampen national focus and local passion for this one.

The Raiders and Bears matchup is part of a four-game series in London that also features Tampa Bay-Carolina, Houston-Jacksonville and L.A. Rams-Cincinnati. The L.A. Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs will play in Mexico City next season.

As it was in 2018, the Raiders, Rams and Chargers, teams playing in temporary venues while their stadia are being built, will all host games abroad.

Raiders Derek Carr dismissed by Khalil Mack when asked about being dunked on

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Raiders Derek Carr dismissed by Khalil Mack when asked about being dunked on

Khalil Mack and Derek Carr remained close even after they stopped being teammates. Carr was devastated to lose Mack in a trade for a Raiders' future draft compensation, both in the locker room and on the field.

Beyond the friendship, the two became main members of the silver and black, and brought much promise to the organization and hoped to create a culture change.

That, unfortunately, didn't come to fruition. 

But we're lucky they still participate in Twitter exchanges to show there are no hard feelings and the bromance is still alive and well. But most recently, they showed there will always be a competitive nature between the two.

Carr answered some questions on his YouTube channel Thursday. But someone wanted to ask via Twitter if he will still dunk on Khalil Mack in the offseason after it became public knowledge Mack has already dunked on him at David Carr's house.

The answer? Without question:

Well, that settles that, but we won't truly believe it until we see it. But at least there's the 1-on-1 win that Carr had against Mack.

Your move, Carr.

2019 NFL Draft order: Cody Parkey's field-goal miss gives Raiders No. 24 pick

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2019 NFL Draft order: Cody Parkey's field-goal miss gives Raiders No. 24 pick

Cody Parkey's missed field-goal try Sunday was bad news for the Chicago Bears, but it helped the Raiders.

The Silver and Black secured the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after concluding a disappointing 4-12 season. They now also own the No. 24 pick after Parkey's miss from 43 yards sealed the Bears' loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC wild-card round.

That pick, which would've been no lower than No. 25 had Parkey made the kick and the Bears won, is part of a larger compensation package acquired from Chicago for All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack on Sept. 1.

Of the Raiders' three first-round picks, one draft slot still has yet to be determined. They got one from Dallas in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper, though that pick won’t be set until the Cowboys are eliminated from the NFC playoffs or win the Super Bowl.

[RELATED: When, how and why the Raiders' 2018 season fell apart]

This upcoming NFL draft is a major part of Jon Gruden’s rebuilding project, a task undertaken during his first year back as Raiders coach/chief personnel man.

The Raiders also have a high pick in the second round that belongs to them, meaning they will own four picks in the first 35 selections.

The Raiders have Chicago’s 2020 first-round pick coming in exchange for Mack, too, though they shockingly also gave up a 2020 second-round choice in the deal.