You’ll always remember where you were when you heard that Khalil Mack was traded to the Bears. It was a major deal that changed the dynamic NFC North and opened up the Bears’ window of contention.
So it should come as no surprise that the deal was lauded as the best in all of pro sports last year … FOR THE RAIDERS!
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticSF) March 18, 2019
I’m being punked, right?
The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reports the Raiders won the Alpha Award for “Best Transaction” during the recent MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. And this award isn’t limited to football, as ALL PROFESSIONAL SPORTS transactions are lumped into consideration for this piece of hardware. So the not only do the nerds say the Raiders won the Mack trade, they also came away on the winning side of what was the best transaction in the entire sports universe.
But how, Sway!? HOW?
From an analytics perspective, I can see how some might come to the conclusion that Oakland pulled a fast one on Chicago (I don’t believe that at all, but I can see it). The Raiders picked up first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, along with a third-round selection in 2020. And while the Raiders haven’t even used those selections to choose players for their rebuilding roster, their value alone appears to be worth their weight in football gold.
Perhaps the Raiders will ultimately come out like bandits in the long haul, but the Bears have ALREADY reaped immediate dividends and are currently in the hunt for a Super Bowl title because they have Mack wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks weekly. See … this is why I hate immediately declaring winners and losers of trades and transactions.
(Michael: And here’s the other thing: For however good the trade may have looked for Oakland on Day 1, it looks worse now that the Bears have been better than expected. Indeed, the value of that first, first-round round pick was weakened by a first-place finish in the NFC North last season, and if the Bears are good again in 2019 (looking likely) the value of that second first-round pick won’t be as good as they thought, either. I guarantee the Raiders thought the Bears would suck, and, thus, would be handing them much higher first-round picks.)
Previous winners of the award include the Golden State Warriors signing free agent Kevin Durant, the Red Sox snagging Jake Peavy in a three-way deal, and the Clippers trading for Chris Paul. The Durant and Peavy transactions were highlighted by their assistance in helping their respective teams win championships. The Clippers trade for Paul sparked the most successful stretch of basketball in franchise history. So maybe we’ll look back at this with the Raiders smelling like roses with all their picks. Or perhaps the Bears will win a Super Bowl during Mack’s time with the team. It’s not like there isn’t a championship pedigree in these moves. Just sayin’.