Las Vegas Raiders: Reassessing the Khalil Mack trade

Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

We take a fresh look at the trade that sent Khalil Mack from the now-Las Vegas Raiders to the Chicago Bears and who came away as the ultimate winner.

The end of the 2020 NFL Draft meant much more to the Las Vegas Raiders than simply adding an infusion of young talent.

While the team was able to overhaul their receiving corps and secondary by selecting Alabama star Henry Ruggs and Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette, the team also brought another major storyline to a close — the infamous 2018 Khalil Mack trade.

The deal sent Mack, a 2020 second-round pick and what amounted to a seventh-round pick, to Chicago in exchange for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a 2020 third-round selection, and a 2019 sixth-round spot.

Part of the puzzle was uncovered after last year’s draft selections. However, until recently, the uncertainty surrounding the remaining picks made the trade difficult to accurately assess.

For what it’s worth, much of the deal still hinges on the play of unproven rookies and sophomores. However, now know all the pieces in the trade, let’s take a look at how each team faired:

The Raiders

The then Oakland Raiders were widely criticized when the trade was made. However, the trade began to look a little less one-sided when Raiders used Chicago’s 2019 first-rounder to select standout running back Josh Jacobs.

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The budding star immediately burst on to the scene to the tune of 1,150 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. After nearly a decade of cycling through players like Doug Martin, Marshawn Lynch, Latavius Murray, and Darren McFadden, the presence of a young, capable back was a breath of fresh air.

Through a long series of trades, the Raiders were also able to package the 2019 late-round picks with some veteran players to land current starting cornerback Trayvon Mullen, veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron, and depth pieces Foster Moreau and Quinton Bell.

While neither are All-Pro caliber players like Mack, both Jacobs and Mullen are really good talents.

Additionally, the Raiders were able to utilize their 2020 first-rounder to address a major need by drafting Arnette. While this selection was considered a bit of a reach by some, it does offer distinct upside in the secondary.

The team also added Bryan Edwards and Isaiah Johnson to their roster in the later rounds.

The Bears

The chief prize in Chicago is clearly Khalil Mack. It is rare to see a franchise part ways with a transcendent pass rusher who is in their athletic prime.

Mack immediately rubbed salt in the wounds of Raider Nation by recording 12.5 sacks in 2018 and 8.5 in 2019. By comparison, the entire Raiders team produced an abysmal 13 total sacks in 2018. The next lowest team had 30.

The 2020 second-round selection was also used to add the top tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft class in former Notre Dame star Cole Kmet.

Kmet figures to be Chicago’s best tight end prospect since the team drafted Greg Olsen in 2007. He should be a dangerous offensive weapon for the foreseeable future.

The team also added depth to their offensive line by drafting Arlington Hambright with their seventh-round pick.

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The Recap

The Raiders ultimately received Josh Jacobs, Damon Arnette, Trayvon Mullen, Bryan Edwards, Isaiah Johnson, Foster Moreau, Quinton Bell, and A.J. McCarron in the deal. They also parted ways with Kelechi Osemele and other minor players in supplementary deals.

The Chicago Bears landed superstar Khalil Mack, in addition to Cole Kmet and Arlington Hambright.

At the end of the day, I always feel as though the team that acquires the best player wins most trade. By that criteria, it still seems as though the Bears got the better end of this transaction.

However, it is by a significantly slimmer margin than expected. Las Vegas now boasts a franchise running back, two prime cornerback prospects, and an array of depth.

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If Arnette and Mullen both live up to their potential, history may very well look back on this trade as a victory for the silver and black.