The Bears received a second-round pick this year and a sixth round pick in 2023 in exchange for the superstar pass rusher, and now, the exact reasons for the trade have been made known. Poles spoke with a small group of reporters for the first time since the trade at NFL owners meeting on March 28, and he had some revealing things to say.
“I would say one of the harder things to do was the Khalil Mack trade,” Poles said, per the team’s official website. “A guy that caliber of a player is not easy to move on from, but it’s one of those situations that you knew you had to do what is best for the club.”
According to one prominent league insider, it may have been best for the Bears for another reason.
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Mack’s Foot Issue Questioned By Top NFL Insider
In his March 28 column for Sports Illustrated, NFL insider Albert Breer suggested Mack could still be hampered by the foot injury that resulted in season-ending surgery in 2021.
“I’ll be interested to see if Mack’s toe injury affects him as a Charger,” Breer wrote. “And the reason is that it’s a pretty rare one for a football player. That doesn’t mean it’s any more or less serious than other injuries, it may just be a little trickier to manage (or maybe it won’t be).”
Mack said he was “100% good to go” at his first Chargers presser, and he played well before the injury last year, netting 22 pressures, 16 QB hurries and 6.0 sacks in seven games, earning a 74.0 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus. Still, the 31-year-old outside linebacker hasn’t played since he had surgery, and it’s noteworthy Breer mentioned it, as it could be a legit issue moving forward.
“There are a lot of things with analytics, age, play time,” Poles said about why the team chose to move on from Mack.
“We put all of that together, and there’s a timing mechanism as well. If you wait, what does that look like? If you do it now, what does that look like? We just thought right now it would allow the Bears to have more ammunition to add more players. It was just looking at our future. It was looking at where we needed to go … it just seemed like the right time to do it in terms of value where we can help this team out now and in the future.”
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Bears Gave Mack a Say in Where He Was Traded
Despite being a defensive-minded individual, new Bears head coach Matt Eberflus says he was ultimately OK with sending one of the team’s best pass rushers to the AFC in exchange for draft capital.
“We all signed off on it,” Eberflus said about the Mack trade, per Adam Hoge of CHGO Sports.
Poles also revealed the team spoke to Mack beforehand about the trade and gave him the opportunity to choose where he wanted to play next.
“I think the cool thing is having the ability to call Khalil and having those conversations with him, and also making sure that I put him in a really good situation,” Poles told the Bears’ website.
“I wasn’t going to send him somewhere that he wasn’t happy, [but somewhere] that he could compete, that he could do a good job if it’s finishing out his career or whatever. I wanted to make sure he knew that I cared and I wanted to put him in a good situation. I think he really appreciated that. I know the agent appreciated that. It’s really, at the end of the day, I think a win/win for Khalil, the Chargers and the Bears in terms of the direction that we’re all going.”