As Obsessive Russell Wilson Watch continues, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio presents a bold Bears trade scenario … but one that may make things almost unworkable: Florio suggests that Chicago send Khalil Mack to Seattle as part of a package that brings back Russell Wilson (perhaps alongside a pair of first-round picks).
Set aside the trade proposal for a moment, and let’s just note that he’s bringing it up at all. This comes as Florio pushes Bears-Wilson narrative pieces, such as wondering if the team would un-retire Bronco Nagurski’s No. 3 for Wilson and noting how the NFC West would have three players who’ve combined to win Defensive Player of the Year awards if Mack were sent to the Seahawks.
So is Florio signaling something here? Are we getting a legitimate wink-and-a-nod? Interesting.
But back to the actual trade idea. Why does including Mack make things almost unworkable? Well, it’s not just the idea of trading away Mack that’s an issue. It’s the wide-ranging salary cap ramifications therein.
I like to consider myself open to anything that nets the Bears an honest-to-goodness quarterback upgrade, and I’m not categorically opposed to including Mack in a deal for Wilson. But Florio’s suggested trade is one that, realistically, the Bears would have to wait until after June 1 to fully complete. Otherwise, dealing Mack would activate a $21.4 million cap charge to the Bears. Tough to build a team around your new, very expensive franchise QB with a dead cap hit like that, especially in a year where the cap is shrinking.
But the thing is, to me, the cap hit would be less of an issue than actually waiting until June 1 to complete this trade. That might be a virtual a non-starter.
Cap gymnastics aside, the type of roster building that needs to happen in order for a post-June 1 trade is a heckuva hurdle. To build a roster, before June with a handshake deal in place for your most important player – which can’t go down until June – seems nightmarish. Also? If the deal can’t actually go down until June, that means the Seahawks couldn’t acquire this year’s Bears first rounder in the deal. Another issue.
That’s all to say nothing of having players on both sides of the deal missing team activities before June. We already saw the trickle-effect of what that meant in last year’s out-of-whack offseason. Seriously, I can’t imagine either side making a blockbuster deal with major ramifications not wanting these new players in their building for as much of the offseason program as possible. And yes, I realize Khalil Mack missed the entire Bears’ offseason program, walked into Halas Hall for a week of practice, then wrecked stuff at Lambeau Field in Week 1 of the 2018 season. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
Once you get through the potential machinations of Florio’s proposal, it’s a real challenge to make a Wilson trade work with Mack in the deal as a post-June trade. And swapping the two before June comes with its own problems: Creating necessary cap space is a real challenge; putting forth an acceptable trade proposal isn’t necessarily a walk in the park; and then building a championship-caliber roster around Wilson will take some work with far less cap space than usual.
In the end, if Wilson is truly a priority and a deal must include Mack, then you either have to deal with the cap charges or find another way to make magic happen.