Oakland Raiders: The most laughable Mack trade scenario you might ever find

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders scores after intercepting Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders scores after intercepting Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter of their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders and star pass rusher Khalil Mack remain at a contract impasse, fueling the rampant – and often ridiculous – trade chatter out there.

The Oakland Raiders, like every other team around the league, have had their fair share of bad trades throughout their illustrious history. It happens. It’s just the nature of the beast. Not every deal you make is going to work out, and sometimes, you’re just going to get straight fleeced.

And if you were to listen to some, the Raiders are possibly on the verge of pulling the trigger on a deal that, no matter how you slice it, would leave them with egg on their collective faces. Maybe even a whole omelette.

With just three meaningless tune up games to come, the Raiders are staring down the barrel of the regular season – and of possibly going into it without arguably, one of the top two or three, defensive presences in the entire league in Khalil Mack, who’s holding out for a very well earned and deserved mega-deal.

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But, given that the two sides reportedly haven’t spoken since February, you might say things are looking a little – bleak.

Gruden was recently quoted as saying the Raiders defense wasn’t all that good with Mack in the lineup – an assertion that isn’t entirely untrue. But, the better question might be – how much worse will they be without Mack in the lineup?

Most believe that, at some point, Mack and the team will either get a deal done, or Mack will show up simply to stop getting dinged more than $800,000 in fines, per game he’s out – that can build up and take a healthy chunk out of his nearly $14 million in salary this season.

Of course, there are many out there who take a less optimistic view of Mack’s return to Oakland. Indeed, the trade chatter grows louder and louder every day, with rumors about Mack being linked to this team, or that team – and the accompanying analysis about why it would make perfect sense.

The incessant trade chatter though, is often as amusing as it is insane – and the analysis actually often makes it make less sense.

The latest nomination – and potential winner – for “Most Ridiculous Khalil Mack Trade Scenario Ever,” goes to Forbes contributor, Vincent Frank, who envisions a trade package so lopsided, you can only think he either really hates the Raiders, or really loves the San Francisco 49ers.

Or maybe he was a yuge fan of that Herschel Walker to the Vikings trade and still argues that Minnesota took Dallas for a ride, and got the better end of the deal.

Basically, what Frank is proposing is pretty much the equivalent of the 49ers sending all of the leftover pieces you have after building a bookcase from IKEA to Oakland for Mack, and calling it a win for both teams.

Okay, okay, if you want to know the details, it goes a little something like this – it really helps if you cue up the Benny Hill theme song to get through this – in exchange for Mack, one of the most dominant players in the league, the 49ers will send the Raiders Arik Armstead, Jimmie Ward, San Francisco’s 2019 first-round pick, and a second-round draft pick at some undetermined point in the future.

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It’s okay. Take a few deep breaths and let the laughter run its course – though, given the parameters of that proposed trade scenario, it might take a while for the laughter to actually run its course.

But, go ahead and laugh it out – we’ll be here when you get back.

Are you back? Okay good, then let’s continue, because we haven’t gotten to the really funny part yet. And the really funny part is that Frank is actually serious about this trade scenario, and actually thinks both sides come out of it winners.

To wit:

"“That’s two former first-round picks as well as a future first and second-round pick for Mack. Oakland might bite. The question then becomes rather obvious. Why would an up-and-coming 49ers squad give up that type of bounty for one player?”"

See what he did there? Clever, clever.

First off, his definition of the “bounty” he’d offer up for Mack is so absurd that you have to wonder if he knows what the word “bounty” really means. And second, it should make you grateful he’s not the GM of your team.

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To read Frank’s take though, the Raiders would be getting an amazing deal in getting not one, not two, but essentially three first round picks to beef up the squad – in addition to that second-round pick at some future, undetermined date — all for the low, low price of one of the most dominant forces in football today.

Well, knock us over with a feather.

The problem (one of the many problems, anyway) with this proposed trade deal, is that Ward is playing on a one-year deal and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Armstead is playing on the fourth-year of his rookie deal, and the 49ers have already picked up his fifth-year option, which will pay him about $9 million dollars in 2019.

So, one of those former first-round picks goes away after this year, and the other goes away after next year. Okay, got it. Moving on.

Let’s now turn to the biggest problem with a Armstead and Ward package, and that is that neither player, though technically a former first-rounder, has actually come close to living up to that first-round billing.

Over his first four years in the league, Ward has played a full 16-game slate once – back in 2015. Over the last two seasons, he’s played 11 games (2016), and seven games last season. Out of a possible 64 games in his four-year career, injuries have kept him out of 22 of them.

And when it comes to Armstead, it’s a case of, “second verse, same as the first.” Over his three years in the league, Armstead has played a full 16-game slate once – his rookie season. 2016 saw him play just eight games due to injury, and 2017 was worse, when he was limited to just six games.

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Las Vegas Raiders

In terms of impact on the field – well – their impact has been negligible. At best.

Over his four seasons, Ward has just a pair of picks and 21 total pass breakups, and Armstead, over his three seasons, has compiled just six total sacks.

So – let’s reframe Frank’s trade proposal, and put it into the terms of what some of us like to call, the reality-based community.

In Frank’s view (once again, cue the Benny Hill theme music), a fair exchange would be the Raiders sending one of the most dominant defensive players in all of football – a guy who’s notched 40.5 sacks over his four seasons in the league, a former Defensive Player of the Year, the only player in NFL history, to be named All-Pro at two positions in the same year, a three-time Pro Bowler, and a guy many already consider a walking Hall of Famer in Mack – for not one, but two first-round busts who can’t stay on the field, and have a negligible impact even when they can, the 49ers’ 2019 first-rounder, and a second-rounder at some future, unspecified date.

It’s not clear on what world that trade package makes a lick of sense, or is good for the Raiders in any way, but it certainly isn’t this world. It’s a trade that would be so lopsided that it might actually be worse than the time Washington was fleeced by the Rams, so they could draft Robert Griffin III.

Frank’s trade proposal would certainly beef up a San Francisco defense that includes the likes of Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, and DeForest Buckner – but, basically, other than a first-round pick, it offers up nothing of substance or value to the Raiders.

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The more likely outcome of all of this is that Mack will return, play out the year on his fifth-year option, giving he and the team more time to come to an equitable arrangement – or he’ll likely be tagged for the next two seasons.

It seems highly unlikely that the Raiders are going to let a generational talent like Mack walk away. You’d hope they’re not that dumb. You have to believe that they’ll find a middle ground and make it work so Mack is happy to stay in a Silver and Black jersey for the long-term – it’s a matter of when, not if.

Until then though, the wild, ridiculously implausible, or just the flat-out ridiculous trade chatter, rumors, and scenarios, will keep rearing their ugly heads — so, just sit back and have a laugh.