They say when something is too good to be true, it probably is. So, when I woke up on Saturday morning and saw the Bears had traded for Khalil Mack, I , like most Chicago fans, couldn’t quite believe it was true.
As I pulled myself together (I am NOT a morning person) and realized it wasn’t a dream, I tweeted out that I didn’t care what the price tag was. Landing Mack in his prime was worth whatever the Bears surrendered, short of shipping off Mitch Trubisky. Imagine my elation when it was announced that not only did the Bears not ship off a single player, but were getting back a 2020 2nd-round pick as part of the deal. (Hint: my elation was pretty high). Trading two firsts for a proven commodity in the area you need the most help in? Yes, please.
Now that my trade high has worn off a bit, let’s take a look at what this deal means for everyone involved.
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Khalil Mack, LB CHI
If there is one teeny, tiny downside to this whole thing, it’s the fact the Bears play a 3-4 scheme and that means the great Mack IDP debate is over. He will be listed as an OLB and that’s the end of it. Now, some league formats have had him listed as an OLB for the past couple of seasons, so that shouldn’t affect his value too much. Outside of that, I could actually see Mack’s sack numbers go up in Chicago. In Oakland, he was the main focus of the offensive line. He still will be in Chicago, but if you ignore Akeim Hicks, Leonard Floyd, et al, your quarterback is not going to have a good time.
Akiem Hicks, DE CHI
Ooh, look over there. Is that Khalil Mack? Smack. Thump. Sack.
The preceding scenario is going to happen a lot this season. Since teams are going to be paying so much attention to Mack, other players are going to be free. Hicks is candidate No. 1 for that. He’s already the best pass rusher on the line and was the focus of the offense in previous seasons. This move will definitely help Hicks and his IDP value.
Leonard Floyd, LB CHI
Depending on what and who you believe, this trade could be an indictment on Floyd. He was drafted out of Georgia to be the team’s pass rush specialist and for the most part he’s had flashes, but inconsistent results. On top of that, he’s missed a bunch of games. Today is all about the positive, though. With the addition of Mack, Floyd will flip-flop sides and will now go up against the right tackle, who generally is not as good in pass blocking. So, that too should mean a bump in Floyd’s numbers.
Sam Acho, LB CHI
Someone has to lose their gig when a new player comes in – the person in this scenario is Acho. He is a good, but not great defender. However, he can plug into any of the four linebacker spots and is very good on special teams. He probably wasn’t on a roster except in extra deep leagues, so you can probably let him go if you’ve been hanging on.
One of the pleasant surprises of 2017 was how ball-hawking the Bears secondary was. Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos seemed to always end up with the ball in their hands. That should see an increase as quarterbacks are running for their lives and blindly chucking the ball down the field.
Derrick Johnson, LB OAK
Yes, he’s 186 years old – that’s new coach Jon Gruden’s type evidently, old. This year all of the offense’s focus will be on Johnson. Even in his last season in Kansas City, you could tell he’s lost a step. His value really shouldn’t spike with the loss of Mack, though he could find himself with a few more opportunities.
Bruce Irvin, LB OAK
He was Mack’s running mate last season and managed to collect eight sacks. Irvin becomes the new main pass rusher, but he really needs someone on the other side of him to take off the pressure. He no longer has that person. It will be interesting to see just how he’ll perform but this move really doesn’t help his value much.
Arden Key, DE OAK
The Twitterverse cries out, “What about the young pass rusher selected in April’s draft?” Well Twitterverse, I’ve got some bad news for you. Key is underweight, which means he can’t power past linemen. While he has speed, most of what concerns me about Key is between the ears. He walked out on LSU twice and didn’t show well at the combine. I hope I’m wrong on the kid, but as of today, I don’t have much faith. Time will tell, though.
The Raiders back end struggled with Mack last year and didn’t do much in terms of upgrades this off-season. Now, the opportunities will be there because the rush will struggle to get home and the ball will be in the air. The chances will be there, now it will be up to the Oakland corners and safeties to make plays. IDP performers aren’t necessarily the best players, sometimes they’re simply the players with the most opportunities.
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