One hallmark of almost any team’s competitive window is uncomfortably large contracts. Think of them as a necessary evil on the path to championship glory. But how many you have and how bad they are can also determine how long your reign at the top lasts. And to that end, we have something (somewhat awesome and a little hilarious) to discuss.
Brad Gagnon (Bleacher Report) recently outlined the parameters of what makes a bad contract, and tried to determine the worst of each team. Indeed, he went through each of the NFL’s 32 rosters in search of prohibitive contracts of players making more than $5 million per year, on the decline, and whose production won’t line up with the deals they have signed. And when he got the Bears, well, it got a little funny.
Gagnon tips his cap to the Bears, noting that quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s deal is as team-friendly as they come. But on the other end of the spectrum, Gagnon lists the Khalil Mack contract as the team’s worst.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know the Bears made Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, when they acquired him last summer. It’s a deal that included $60 million at signing, $90 million in guarantees, and could be worth $141 million over the course of six years. Through that lens, that’s an awfully large expenditure Chicago signed off on last season. But can you fault the Bears for making that deal? The answer is a resounding NO! Mack was a first-team All-Pro performer who had a huge hand in taking the team from worst to first, while also opening up Chicago’s championship window. By no means would the Bears un-do the deal they made.
There is no way you’re going to get me to say Mack’s deal is a bad one. If anything, naming Mack’s contract as the Bears’ worst says a lot about the good ones they have signed under GM Ryan Pace. Unlike the prior regime, the Pace-led front office hasn’t tied itself to contracts with aging veterans whose cap hits could be damaging to a team in a title window. Simply put, that’s good work by the front office.
Because even while shelling out some major dollars, the Bears have afforded themselves a chance to get out of less-than-desirable deals that could open up cap space down the line if needed with a little creativity. The Mack deal doesn’t have that luxury, though I doubt Chicago is planning on needing such an escape route.