The Las Vegas Raiders‘ offseason almost looked very different. The biggest move the team made was the signing of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. The former Pro Bowler should be a major upgrade at pass rusher for the Raiders and has been fitting in really well with the team.
However, Las Vegas almost didn’t even pursue him. Instead, they hoped to bring back their former Defensive Player of the Year winning. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, the Raiders were gunning to trade for Khalil Mack prior to signing Ngakoue.
“The Raiders have had a glaring need for a proven pass rusher since trading Mack to the Chicago Bears nearly three years ago and when free agency opened in March, they targeted and planned to sign Yannick Ngakoue,” Tafur wrote.
“But before they did, they made a phone call, league sources said.”
Tafur went onto reveal that the Bears didn’t have interest in trading the star pass rusher despite massive salary cap issues. Had they been willing to play ball, Mack could be wearing silver and black again right now.
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This Would’ve Been a Wild Development
It’s no secret that the Raiders didn’t really want to trade Mack. He was their best homegrown defender in over a decade and arguably one of their best defenders ever. He was the first Raiders player to win Defensive Player of the Year since Lester Hayes did it in 1980. In a perfect world, the team would’ve kept him under contract for years to come.
However, Mack never appeared interested in playing for Jon Gruden after he replaced Jack Del Rio. While Gruden gets much of the blame for the trade, Mack essentially forced his way out. Now, the Raiders could’ve done a better job at winning him over but having him wouldn’t have made them a playoff team in the last three years. The Bears don’t have a winning record in either of the last two seasons. Had this trade happened, it would’ve been one of the biggest talking points in the NFL this season.
Would It Have Been Smart to Trade Back for Mack?
When you draft a generational talent like Mack, you typically don’t let them go after only four seasons. He’s been a stud with the Bears but there’s no doubt he was more effective with the Raiders. He had three double-digit sack seasons in four years with the silver and black. He only has one in three seasons with the Bears.
With Chicago having such bad salary cap issues, it appeared very possible that Mack could be traded. Had he been on the block, the Raiders would’ve been smart just to try. The asking price for him would likely be lower than what the Bears had to pay the team. He’s got a massive contract now and was coming off better seasons when the Raiders traded him. Depending on the asking price, it would’ve been a great move for Las Vegas to trade for Mack. Many of the fans still love him and have his jersey. He would’ve instantly fixed their pass rush issues and still makes an impact in run defense.