The Bears are a day away from not participating in the first round of the NFL Draft. Again.
I can’t imagine anyone reading this is bummed out about that, though, unless you happen to be a tackle who plays for a team on the Bears’ schedule in 2020.
Khalil Mack is a generational talent, the kind of guy who’s absolutely worth trading two first-round picks to acquire. But you already knew that. The reason I’m writing this is a reminder of what *else* the Bears got in the Mack trade.
“Obviously getting Mack was the priority,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “But getting that two back was really important for us. Having two two’s, I keep on going back to it, that’s big.”
The Bears’ first pick in this year’s draft will be — if they don’t trade down — 43rd overall via the Las Vegas Raiders. That’ll be 24 selections after the Raiders use the last first round pick the Bears sent in the Mack trade.
Put it this way: The Bears traded a 2019 first round pick, a 2020 third round pick, and then moved down 24 spots in 2020 to acquire Mack (along with a swap of some late-round picks). That's why it's still a win for Pace and the Bears.
From a value standpoint, too, the Bears’ trade for Mack is the best in recent memory. The Bears traded two first round picks, a third round pick and Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler in 2009; the Texans, bafflingly, traded two first round picks, a second round pick and two players for Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, a fourth round pick and a sixth round pick last year.
And later in 2019, the Rams shipped a pair of first round picks and a fourth round picks to the Jaguars for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. All three of those trades felt like panic buys (the Bears to finally get a QB, the Texans to not ruin Deshaun Watson's career, the Rams to try to make the playoffs).
The Mack trade, so far, has worked out — and should work out — better than any of those three deals. While the Bears desperately needed a pass-rushing upgrade before the 2018 season, they didn't enter negotiations with the Raiders with the sort of desperation that led those other front offices to give up too much.
Also: Neither Tunsil nor Ramsey were signed to long-term deals after those trades. Both players’ contracts expire after the 2020 season if extensions aren’t reached, meaning they’ll either get the franchise tag or hit free agency.
Meanwhile, the Bears have Mack locked into a long-term contract — which still is the largest for a defensive player in league history — and go on the clock with pick No. 43 this year. They can find an immediate starter with that pick, a player who should be expected to help get them back to the playoffs in 2020.
This isn’t to say the Raiders got fleeced in the Mack trade. They didn’t. It was a good trade for both teams, which is something that actually can exist! The Raiders are happy with Josh Jacobs and will probably be happy with who they draft 19th overall this year. The Bears are happy with Mack and the 43rd overall pick.
I gotta think that’s a fine price to pay in exchange for a relatively boring Thursday night this week.