If you were wondering if Raiders players were totally buying what Jon Gruden was selling out west, I feel as if this tweet goes a long way toward unearthing an answer:
NFL Films is in the Raiders’ locker room today, conducting its annual Top 100 player poll. Asked two players who they voted No. 1. Same answer: “Khalil.”
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) December 21, 2018
So according to some of Khalil Mack’s former teammates in Oakland, they believe the Raiders traded away the best player in the NFL when they sent Mack to the Chicago Bears before the start of the 2018 season. Not only is this high praise for the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year (who finished as high as fifth in the NFL Network’s top-100 list back in 2017), these votes for Mack are indicative of how strongly players felt about him and also hints at the deal serving as the beginning of the end to what has been a season in turmoil.
On the other side of the deal, the Bears are glad to have done business with the Raiders. Chicago landed a generational talent while handing away two first-round picks, one of which is guaranteed to be among the bottom half of the first round. And while things could still work out for Oakland, the fruits of their labor won’t likely be seen until the team lands in Las Vegas.
As for Mack’s teammates, you can understand why they would feel this way about losing an impact player of Mack’s caliber. Mack enters Week 16 with more sacks than the entire Raiders defense, has played at an elite level since his debut despite not participating in training camp or preseason games, and has led a team coming off four consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC North to its first division title since 2010. It would be totally understandable if Raiders players found themselves looking at what Mack has done since his departure and dream about how he could have saved their season had he not been sent packing to Chicago.