Khalil Mack

Jets Looking For Pass Rush Help, Made Big Offer For Mack

The Jets missed out on the Khalil Mack sweepstakes, but will continue looking for help rushing the passer. They recently brought in outside linebacker John Simon for a visit, although they didn’t end up signing him. New York has also worked out a string of other lower-profile defensive linemen and outside linebackers in recent weeks.

Their intention to bring in outside help was recently confirmed by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who writes that acquiring such a player remains the team’s primary objective. He adds that the Jets were even more serious about trading for Mack than was originally reported, and that they would likely have been willing to meet or beat the Bears’ winning offer, which included two first-round draft picks.

La Canfora says the Raiders essentially ended the bidding on Mack once they received assurances that Chicago was willing to part with two first-rounders, especially since trading him to the Bears allowed them to get Mack out of the AFC.

But the Jets have a ton of cap space and a commitment from ownership, so they will continue to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of a QB hunter. Former NFL agent Joel Corry wonders if, next offseason, the Jets could be involved in the first edge rusher tag and trade since Jared Allen was tagged by the Chiefs and traded to the Vikings in 2008 (Twitter link). Whatever happens, expect the Jets to be aggressive in building their roster as they transition into the Sam Darnold-era.

Extra Points: Mack, Rams, Rodgers, Luck

We previously heard that the Rams had made a bid on Khalil Mack, but the Raiders rejected the offer because the picks were going to be too low. Tonight, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported (via Twitter) that Los Angeles ultimately offered Oakland a first- and third-round pick.

However, the Rams didn’t see much of a future with Mack, especially after handing Aaron Donald a lucrative $135MM extension. Schefter notes that the team would have turned around and traded the impending free agent (presumably after he inked his franchise tag) this offseason. The team was trying to go “all in” on the upcoming campaign, with the hope that they could pair Mack with Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.

Instead, Mack was dealt to the Bears, who then signed the pass rusher to a six-year, $141 million deal. The 27-year-old had a big game in his debut with Chicago, collecting three tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pick-six.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden sat down to discuss the Mack trade with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, noting that the star player “obviously” didn’t want to be in Oakland. “Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to play here,” Gruden said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “That’s what’s being missed here. He was under contract, Lisa. He was under contract. He never showed up for an OTA, never showed up for a training camp and it was obvious he wasn’t going to show up for the season. Don’t forget that. We have to get ready to play and I want players that want to be here, that want to help us put this thing back in high gear.”
  • Aaron Rodgers sat out three series during last night’s contest before leading the Packers to a comeback victory over the Bears. While the quarterback may have tossed three second-half touchdowns, he’s not a sure-thing for next weekend’s game against the Vikings. Head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t give any indications as to whether the team would start Rodgers or backup DeShone Kizer on Sunday. “We do have some information and no decision has been made,” McCarthy said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “We’re still collecting all the information.” NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Rodgers is pushing to play, and the team will continue to monitor the swelling in his knee as the week goes on.
  • We learned earlier today that Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson was going to miss several weeks as he recovered from a concussion. Fortunately, it sounds like reinforcement is around the corner, as coach Bill O’Brien told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop that cornerback Kayvon Webster is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an Achilles injury (Twitter links). However, the defensive back won’t be ready for next week, and the team will consider moving safety Kareem Jackson to cornerback as they deal with the injuries.
  • In an interview with Rapoport, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck discussed a “previously secret injury” to his right shoulder that he suffered while snowboarding. The injury occurred after Luck had suffered a labrum tear in 2015, and the quarterback ended up hurting his AC joint in his throwing shoulder during the snowboarding accident. For what it’s worth, Luck is convinced that the indiscretion didn’t do anything to slow his eventual rehab from labrum surgery. “I’ve seen more doctors than I can count on two hands over the past two or three years,” Luck said, “and the consensus — unanimous — is that the AC is not an issue, nor did it have an effect. The labrum is an issue.”

Raiders Sat On Khalil Mack Contract Proposal

The Raiders could have potentially re-signed edge rusher Khalil Mack to a deal that was cheaper than the six-year, $141MM pact he eventually received from the Bears, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

Oakland reportedly sat on a proposal from Mack and his camp for six months, per La Canfora. While the details of the offer are unknown, it clearly wouldn’t have made Mack the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player. And because it would have been signed before Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald reset the defensive market with a $22.5MM annual average value of his own, Mack’s theoretical deal would have likely come in lower than Donald’s.

The Raiders agreed to send Mack, a 2020 second-round round pick, and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick to the Bears in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2019 sixth-round pick. Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie recently admitted his club’s plan was never to trade Mack, but it became clear a contractual agreement was not going to be reached with the star pass rusher.

Mack, 27, has been a wrecking ball since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014. A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Mack has totaled 40.5 sacks over his first four NFL seasons. In 2017, Pro Football Focus graded Mack as the NFL’s seventh-best edge defender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders GM Discusses Khalil Mack Trade

Last weekend, the Raiders were the talk of the NFL after sending star linebacker Khalil Mack to the Bears. While owner Mark Davis and head coach Jon Gruden were the two pushing for the trade, it’s uncertain how much general manager Reggie McKenzie had to do with the deal.

Gruden clearly has the ear of his owner, emphasized by the organization dealing off many of McKenzie’s draft picks. There have been rumblings that the Raiders could be preparing to part ways with the general manager, although Gruden was clear it was an organizational decision to trade off Mack.

For what it’s worth, McKenzie didn’t sound like he was entirely on board with a Mack deal. In an interview with Scott Bair of NBC Sports BayArea, the general manager provided some insight into the trade. The whole interview is worth reading, and we’ve collected some of the notable soundbites below:

On how he was handling the entire ordeal prior to the trade:

“My whole thought process was to get Khalil (signed). It was at the end, in the final hour, that it just hit. It hit hard and heavy. It was not a plan to trade him at all.”

On negotiations with Mack, who ended up signing a six-year, $141MM ($90MM guaranteed) deal after being dealt to Chicago:

“There were some things that weren’t meshing between the two proposals. That made it hard to go into details. We were trying to figure out ways to get it done, but it wasn’t going to look like what Khalil wanted.”

On whether quarterback Derek Carr‘s five-year, $125MM extension impacted negotiations with Mack:

“We knew we had two great players in that [2014] draft a long time ago. We knew this thing was coming. We were trying to plan for this. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That scenario did not weight heavily in our decisions.”

On the perception that the organization is unwilling to pay their own players:

“We will pay top dollar. We couldn’t get around giving Khalil what he wanted. We will pay top dollar to top players. We just could not get it worked out with Khalil. When it seemed like it was going that way, we decided to make a move with the trade. We will be able attract players. …We’ll find a way to continue to play good football. We’re not worried about the outside perception of free agency. We will get free agents in here when its time to do that and we will keep our own. Sometimes you can’t keep them all. That’s just the way it goes.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Tried Trading For Khalil Mack

The Rams tried trading for Khalil Mack before he was ultimately dealt to the Bears, according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff said the team “offered a pretty aggressive package” but that the Raiders ultimately turned it down because they thought the Rams were “going to pick too low.” Jon Gruden made clear earlier this week that one of the primary concerns when trading Mack was getting picks from teams they thought would be drafting in the top half of the draft.

Acquiring Mack would’ve probably made the Rams the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and would’ve meant very low draft picks going back to Oakland. Still, it’s fun to envision a defense with Mack and Aaron Donald lining up next to each other.

With all the recent extensions the Rams have doled out, it’s unclear how they would’ve been able to make a Mack mega-deal fit into their salary cap, but apparently the team felt confident they’d be able to do it. The Rams under GM Les Snead’s leadership have been aggressive in free agency and in trades, and have seemingly been in on every big name player.

A Mack trade to the Rams would’ve made things especially interesting as the Rams play the Raiders in Week 1, on Monday Night Football.

Khalil Mack Fallout: Suitors, Raiders, Donald

While the Bears won the 11th-hour Khalil Mack sweepstakes, several other teams are now known to have inquired or submitted bids. After reports of interest from the Jets, Browns and 49ers, Albert Breer of SI.com adds the Packers and Bills contacted the Raiders about their disgruntled defensive end. However, neither team was close to agreeing to the terms the Bears did. Only the Jets were on the Bears’ level in terms of compensation, Breer notes, and the Jets are not believed to have offered two first-round picks. A team was reported to have offered a first- and third-round pick for Mack; it’s possible that was the Jets. (Although, that report last week may have been about a possible first Bears offer rather than the Jets’.) The Packers hovered as the team Las Vegas pegged as the favorites to land Mack, but they will stick with Clay Matthews and Nick Perry on the edge. Buffalo has Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy slotted as its starting edge defenders, with trade-block occupant Shaq Lawson positioned as a depth piece.

Here’s more from one of this century’s biggest NFL transactions:

  • The Raiders submitted an offer to Mack’s agent in February, and it was swiftly rejected, Breer notes. Jon Gruden said Sunday the Raiders were not in the Bears’ ballpark on numbers, and Breer adds once the Aaron Donald $22.5MM-per-year deal surfaced, the Raiders knew Mack’s asking price was going to become more reasonable. For weeks, the Raiders gave hard no’s when approached with Mack trade inquiries. However, teams noticed the Raiders’ tone changed regarding Mack late last week, with Breer adding they were much more open to deals. It’s logical to assume the Donald agreement catalyzed this process.
  • Chicago brass monitored the Mack situation all summer, with Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy having long meetings about the prospect of acquiring the 2016 defensive player of the year last week, Breer reports.
  • As for why the Raiders didn’t try to hold their line about Mack playing on his fifth-year option salary? Jon Gruden referenced Kirk Cousins‘ situation with his brother Jay‘s Redskins as part of his reasoning for why he felt Mack had to go. “We have waited. We waited and waited and the (Week 1) Rams game was looming,” Gruden said, via Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). “Our feeling was that he was not going to report anytime soon. And … I saw the Redskins go through it with Kirk Cousins. … It’s a long process. You can wait it out; you can franchise him; you can force him to play. But we made a decision and we’re going to stand by it.” However, the Cousins situation dragged into the passer’s sixth season. Mack has yet to play his fifth. The Raiders had the franchise tag to use in 2019 and 2020, but it appears Mack’s threat about sitting out games prompted them to take the Bears’ unique offer while it was on the table.
  • Mack’s six-year, $141MM Bears deal will feature $73.3MM coming to the new Bears weapon within the first three years, Breer notes. He’ll make $41MM overall in 2018. Donald’s three-year haul on his six-year, $135MM Rams pact will be $67MM.

Latest On Raiders’ Khalil Mack Decision

Addressing the Khalil Mack trade for the first time, Jon Gruden said the Raiders’ salary cap situation indeed played into the choice to ship the team’s best player to Chicago. Particularly, Derek Carr‘s contract played a role.

While Gruden said (via the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Michael Gehlken, on Twitter) he was not involved in the daily communications between Mack’s agent and the team, he did indicate Carr’s $25MM-AAV contract — one the quarterback signed in hopes of leaving his team enough money to take care of teammates’ deals down the road — made it difficult to complete a Mack extension. And the Raiders weren’t particularly close on terms with their former superstar defender.

The Bears gave Mack a six-year, $141MM contract with $90MM in guarantees — raising the bar for defenders after Aaron Donald did so previously. Gruden confirmed (per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) the Raiders made an offer, and it was “not anywhere close” to the terms Mack received from the Bears.

Gruden said the 27-year-old phenom was part of why he accepted Mark Davis‘ offer to return to coach the Raiders, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), but added the $90MM in guarantees was something the Raiders “could not do.” Rumors about the Raiders’ wherewithal to authorize such a guarantee surfaced late in the offseason, but nothing concrete emerged about Davis’ ability to construct a Mack extension. But it’s clear the Raiders were not willing to venture into the financial neighborhood the Bears were.

As for pulling the trigger on a trade now, when Mack was attached to a $13MM-plus fifth-year option and could have been franchise-tagged in the future, Gruden said he did not believe Mack was going to report and it was “time to move on.” Additionally, the Bears’ “unique” offer prompted the Raiders to make the deal, with the 55-year-old head coach adding there was no guarantee a proposal including two first-round picks would’ve been on the table in 2019 (Twitter links via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur).

The Raiders received interest from several teams on the Mack front — the Jets, 49ers and Browns are the known suitors who didn’t match the Bears’ haul — and ended up giving the Bears a second-round pick in the deal. Gruden said, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link), he was not part of the discussion that sent a future Day 2 pick to the Bears.

With Gruden having cut or traded several of Reggie McKenzie‘s recent draft picks in recent weeks, and having criticized the 2015-17 classes during training camp — and on Sunday (Twitter link via Gehlken) — some understandable discord may be taking place in Oakland. Some around the NFL did not expect the Gruden-McKenzie partnership, one that featured Gruden siphoning much of the GM’s power, to last, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. However, Gruden said the Raiders came to this Mack decision “as an organization,” per Gehlken (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Tried Trading For Khalil Mack

Add one more team to the list of those who tried trading for superstar defensive end Khalil Mack before he was ultimately dealt to the Bears. The 49ers tried acquiring the All-Pro pass-rusher, according to Cam Inman of the Mercury News.

49ers GM John Lynch talked about the team’s pursuit of Mack earlier, saying “we would have been foolish not to” go after him. Lynch added that the team moved “aggressively” for Mack, but ultimately came up just short in the negotiations.

In the same article, Inman writes that coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t ruled out adding a different pass-rusher. Mack would’ve joined forces with last year’s number three overall pick Solomon Thomas, and would’ve greatly bolstered the 49ers’ defense.

Clearly, the Raiders had a host of suitors for Mack and a number of trade offers to choose from. Nobody was able to beat the Bears’ offer, and Lynch made clear that the team established “parameters” as to what they were willing to include in trade talks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Mack, Lynch, Henry

Yesterday’s trade that sent Khalil Mack from the Raiders to the Bears rocked the NFL world, and we can expect more details to trickle out in the coming days. For instance, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie conceded yesterday that he never had any desire to trade Mack until the end. Per Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, McKenzie said, “My whole thought process was how to get Khalil in here. Absolutely, it was here at the end, it was in the final hour that it kind of just hit and it hit hard and heavy. It was not the plan to trade him at all.”

McKenzie also said he was not afraid to pay top dollar for Mack, but he just could not justify Mack’s asking price. He said, “We presented him with an offer. We got the counter back and talked about it with (agent Joel Segal). What they were demanding, it just wasn’t going to work” (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal). McKenzie, though, did not elaborate on how Mack’s counteroffer to the Raiders compared with the contract he ultimately landed with the Bears. Gehlken also tweets that more than half the league inquired on Mack, and Oakland ultimately narrowed the list of suitors to teams that it believed could be picking high in the first round in 2019.

Now let’s round up several more rumors from the AFC West:

  • Embattled QB Paxton Lynch is still on the Broncos‘ roster for now, but he may not be around for long. As James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, Denver GM John Elway said he spoke with several free agent quarterbacks, but the QBs he was interested in did not have any interest in joining the Broncos. Elway did not name names, but it is clear that Denver could still move on from Lynch if the club can make an upgrade through free agency or the waiver wire.
  • The Broncos waived impressive rookie OLB Jeff Holland yesterday and likely hope that he will go unclaimed so they can put him on the practice squad. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, however, tweets that she does not expected Holland to make it through waivers, as teams were expressing interest in him even before he was cut.
  • We heard several weeks ago that Chargers TE Hunter Henry could return this season, and as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk points out, what the Bolts did during final cuts yesterday is in keeping with that report. Los Angeles elected to put Henry on the PUP list rather than injured reserve, which further supports the notion that, if the Chargers are in the playoff hunt late in the season, Henry could return to help get them over the hump.
  • The Raiders released WR Martavis Bryant yesterday, as Bryant is facing yet another drug-related suspension.
  • The Chiefs released CB David Amerson yesterday.

North Notes: Bears, Ravens, Packers, Browns

Among the offers the Raiders received for edge rusher Khalil Mack, the Bears‘ was “by far” the strongest, tweets Michael Lombardi of The Athletic. Chicago eventually acquired Mack, so it’s unsurprising their offer was the most substantial, but Lombardi’s report may indicate the Bears outbid rivals by several magnitudes. In the end, Chicago sent Oakland a 2019 first-round pic, a 2010 first-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2019 sixth-round pick in exchange for Mack, a 2020 second-round round pick, and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick. The Bears have since extended Mack, making him the NFL’s highest-paid defender.