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Chucky Made the Right call

Chucky Made the Right call

Matt Weill
(Oakland, CA) — Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden has been widely criticized this week for trading away former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. In exchange for Mack and a second-round pick in 2020, the Bears sent over their first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a third-round pick in 2020 in addition to a sixth-round pick in 2019.

Soon after the trade was finalized, Mack and the Bears agreed to a record-breaking contract, six-year for $141 million dollars. Which includes a record $90 million dollar signing bonus. Many have been critical of the Raiders unwillingness to pay Mack the money he wants, which led to a stalemate between the two sides. Eventually, the Raiders decided to move on from the former fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

This deal works out great for both parties. The Bears acquire a known entity to add to an up-and-coming defense while the Raiders can wash their hands of the situation while obtaining future assets in addition to receiving salary cap flexibility for future signings.

The NFL isn’t Major League Baseball where there isn’t a salary cap for a teams roster payroll.  Nor is this the NBA were all you need is two or three stars to compete for a title. The NFL forces teams to make tough roster decisions while creating their 53 man roster. Signing Mack to that much money would have been crippling to the Raiders because you need to have both depth and balance to be a good team in the NFL.

At the current cap number, a team can only pay one of its players “franchise quarterback money”. And the Raiders did exactly that when they signed Derek Carr to a five-year $125 million dollar extension with $70 million guaranteed back in June of 2017. The Raiders essentially chose to sign Carr over Mack and that is easily the right call. Are people really going to say that a defensive player is more important than a really good quarterback? The influence a quarterback has in a football game is unparalleled. We’ve seen teams neutralize the effect great defensive players have on games in several ways; either running to the other side if they are a lineman or, if a team is facing a lockdown corner, by throwing it away from him.

Historically, teams that give out these mega-deals to defensive players don’t end up getting any better. A few names that come to mind are Albert Haynesworth who sat on his butt once he got his $100 million dollar contract from the Washington Redskins in 2009. In 2015, the Miami Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh for six years and $114 million dollars before releasing him this past off-season. The Redskins didn’t make the playoffs while Haynesworth was around and Miami had a lone playoff appearance where they got manhandled by the Steelers in 2017.

I would be surprised if a poll taken today showed they would do these contracts over again if they had the chance.

But what about players such as Fletcher Cox of the Eagles? After all, they just won a Super Bowl. What isn’t being emphasized is that certain teams can pay big money to a non-quarterback and be successful. But these teams all have one very important factor in common. They have good, young quarterbacks who are playing under rookie contracts that pay well under open market value. That was the Eagles this year and Seattle a few years back when Russell Wilson was on his rookie deal.

With that being said, I like the decision the Bears made to get Mack because they have Mitchell Trubisky in his rookie deal. Many around the Bears organization believe Trubisky is going to be a very good quarterback in this league.

People seem to think that it was Gruden’s desire to unload Mack. In a perfect world, he would have been able to sign both.  In the meantime, Jon Gruden will continue to make tough personnel decisions and live with the outcome.

kristina killingsworth

September 17th, 2018

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