Lions Projected to Make Blockbuster Trade for $141 Million Edge Rusher

khalil mack

Getty Los Angeles Chargers DE Khalil Mack.

The Detroit Lions found a budding star in edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, but have struggled to round out their pass rush with another consistent performer.

That could change this offseason with one blockbuster trade, Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus suggests. Spielberger wrote about four potential trades that could shake up the NFL offseason, predicting that the Lions could make a run at All-Pro Khalil Mack as a counterpart to Hutchinson on the edge.

Lions Make Big Move on Defense

Spielberger suggested that trading for the Los Angeles Chargers star could be an all-in move for a Lions team that fell heartbreakingly short of the Super Bowl after blowing a 17-point lead to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game. He compared the potential trade to the interest around wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last offseason, a declining star with a big price tag who ultimately ended up being released when his team could not find a trade partner willing to pay up.

“That interest comes at a price in this league, however, and Mack’s 2024 salary is exorbitant for a 33-year-old edge defender, even one coming off as strong a season as Mack’s 2023 campaign,” Spielberger wrote.

Mack is in the final season of a six-year, $141 million deal he originally signed with the Chicago Bears, but still performed at a high level in 2023. The All-Pro edge rusher had a career-best 17 sacks for the Chargers last season, though Spielberger suggested that a team like the Lions could have a chance to get Mack at a reduced price due to his age

“The challenge for Los Angeles will be convincing teams they are trading for the 2023 version of Mack and not what is more likely a player whose median expectation should fall somewhere between his past two seasons,” he wrote.

Spielberger added that the move could be a boon to the Lions, who have been building up what had been a league-worse defense. He suggested that “adding a savvy veteran difference-maker like Mack could push them over the edge.”

Mack has acknowledged that he doesn’t have much control over his NFL future, signaling that he could be prepared for a trade.

“I know what I bring to the game, understanding that I want to be a team guy. Whatever team, I’m not in control of that right now,” Mack said, via Kris Rhim of ESPN.

Lions Look to Another Young Star

While Hutchinson turned in another strong season with 11.5 total sacks, the Lions struggled at times to find consistency beyond the second-year edge rusher. One of the biggest question marks was in James Houston, who had a breakout second half of his rookie season in 2023 with eight total sacks in seven games but was injured in Week 2 in 2023 and missed the rest of the regular season.

Some believe the Lions could make other additions to their defense through the trade block, including Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon who named the Lions as one of the top five landing spots for Philadelphia Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick after his trade request.