The Chicago Bears had a glaring weakness at pass-rusher heading into the 2018 season and addressed it by swooping in and making a blockbuster trade to acquire Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders, then paid him handsomely to keep him around and open up what they believe is their window of contention.
But it’s not like the Bears didn’t have some stiff competition in the Mack sweepstakes.
Out west, the San Francisco 49ers had the same positional need as the Bears did before the season started. Five weeks into the season, the 49ers are still plagued by the pass-rushing issues they figured could give them fits prior to the start of the year. It has some lamenting the team’s inability to land the big fish, but according to GM John Lynch, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“We made every effort to secure his services. … We went in there and we went in there hard,” GM John Lynch told KNBR radio, via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Our offer was very similar to the won out. I don’t know what went into the Raiders’ mind-set in terms of where they sent him.”
What ultimately went through the Raiders’ minds when pulling the trigger on the deal is quite simple if you think about it. Oakland thought Chicago would be a worse team, thus, making the first-round picks they would receive in return for Mack higher in value. So far, that’s not proving to be the case as Mack’s arrival has lifted the Bears’ defense to another level. The Bears are looking like contenders after four games, and Mack is the biggest reason why.
Back in September, we discussed the motivating factors that the Bears, Raiders, and Mack himself had to get a deal done. Among them, Oakland’s wish to get Mack totally off their radar, including keeping him away from their regional Bay Area rivals.
It’s possible that the 49ers made a comparable offer, but one the Raiders ultimately turned down for any number of reasons. It’s also possible the 49ers are full of it and didn’t actually make a comparable offer, but don’t want to look like they goofed up now that their pass-rush is a factor in their defense’s slow start. No matter Oakland’s reasoning, Mack is a member of the Bears. We love it. He loves it. He loves that we love it. And everyone else who tried just has to deal with it.