Matt Nagy

Bears Expected To Retain Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy

The Bears will need to hire a new defensive coordinator, but their power structure is otherwise expected to remain in place.

Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are expected to stay on in their respective roles, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Pace has been with the Bears since the 2015 season, hiring Nagy in 2018. The results have been mixed, and one fateful draft decision has largely defined this era of Bears football, but it appears ownership is content after a second playoff berth in three seasons.

Pace’s decision to trade up to No. 2 overall and draft Mitchell Trubisky has proven to be one of the modern draft’s premier missteps, with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson becoming superstars fairly quickly while Trubisky struggled. The Bears declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option, and Nagy benched the embattled starter in September. However, the Bears turned back to their young passer late this season and managed to make the playoffs despite a six-game losing streak. The Saints then dispatched the NFC’s No. 7 seeded-squad in a game that saw the Bears gain just 140 yards prior to a garbage-time drive.

While Pace did well to build a championship-caliber defense — trading for Khalil Mack, signing Akiem Hicks and drafting Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith — Chicago’s offenses have capped that unit’s relevance. The Bears lost DC Vic Fangio after the 2018 season and will now be searching for a successor to the retiring Chuck Pagano. Chicago’s defense has ranked in the top 10 in DVOA over the past three seasons, but some of its key players — Mack, Hicks, Danny Trevathan and Robert Quinn — are either north of 30 or will be by the 2021 season.

Nagy earned Coach of the Year honors in 2018, with the ex-Chiefs OC elevating Trubisky considerably that year and ending a seven-season Bears playoff drought. The Bears finished fourth in the NFC North in each of the three Pace-John Fox seasons, but their 2018 slate did not prove to be an indication of an imminent ascent. The team has gone 8-8 in each of the past two years and has ranked no higher than 22nd in scoring or total offense in that span, despite the 2020 playoff berth in an expanded postseason.

It is not certain if Nagy will have a new quarterback to work with in 2021, but is does look like the young head coach has done enough to earn a fourth season in Chicago. The team still has Nick Foles under contract for 2021 but will add another starting-caliber passer — via Trubisky extension or via outside acquisition — ahead of next season. The Bears have also featured little in the way of proven weaponry outside of Allen Robinson, who is a free agent. Pace’s work reassembling Chicago’s offense this offseason will go a long way toward determining his and Nagy’s long-term futures.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Retain HC Matt Nagy?

Over the past few weeks, it was looking increasingly likely that Bears head coach Matt Nagy would be fired at season’s end. But after a six-game losing streak that appeared to dash the club’s playoff hopes, Chicago has won two in a row and suddenly controls its own destiny in its push for a wildcard berth.

As such, multiple sources tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that the Bears are expected to retain Nagy in 2021 (Twitter link). If his team defeats the 1-13 Jaguars today, Nagy will have secured at least eight wins in each of his three seasons in the Windy City, and that may be enough for ownership to keep him around for another year.

Obviously, a loss to the tanking Jags would be a major blow to Nagy’s prospects, but it currently sounds as if he will be safe if the Bears beat Jacksonville, regardless of what happens against the NFC-leading Packers next week. Assuming that’s the case, it will be interesting to see what the club does with GM Ryan Pace, who was also said to be facing an uncertain future in Chicago. After all, a new GM may or may not want to be married to Nagy, so if Nagy stays, Pace might stay as well.

Part of the reason for Nagy’s changing fortunes is the improved play of QB Mitch Trubisky. Since Trubisky was reinserted into the starting lineup four games ago, the Bears are averaging 31 points per game, and the former No. 2 overall pick looks more comfortable and confident. Nagy has employed more play action passes to help his young signal-caller, and Trubisky has completed 68% of his passes for eight TDs against just three interceptions.

Some NFL executives tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that the Bears have to consider re-signing Trubisky, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency at season’s end since the club declined his fifth-year option earlier this year. A Trubisky re-up would validate both Nagy and Pace, and though it was difficult to imagine a month ago, it’s possible that all three men will be back with the Bears in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears HC Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace Facing Uncertain Futures

Bears head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are facing uncertain futures in Chicago, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link). The Bears are mired in a six-game losing streak after starting the season 5-1, and it appears a major shakeup could be on the way.

Nagy’s seat has been getting hotter as the losing streak has continued, and a report surfaced last week that the Bears are more likely than not to fire their third-year HC at season’s end. If that happens, the club is said to be very interested in Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, though it’s unclear if Fitzgerald would want to make the jump from the college ranks to the pros.

Nagy, who served as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator for two seasons before getting the Bears’ HC gig, was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2018, his first year at the helm. Under his watch, the Bears won the NFC North and qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2010, and while the team was ousted in the wild card round — thanks to the notorious double-doink missed field goal — the arrow seemed to be pointing up.

That was especially true since Mitch Trubisky took a major step forward with Nagy, earning a Pro Bowl nod at the end of that 2018 season and posting a 95.4 QB rating. Since then, however, it’s been all downhill for both men. The Bears slipped to an 8-8 record last year, Trubisky saw his fifth-year option declined in May, and he lost his starting job to Nick Foles earlier this season. The Bears have been near the bottom of the league in total offense in each of the past two years, not a good look for an offensive-minded coach like Nagy.

Pace, meanwhile, became the Bears’ GM in 2015 and presided over three consecutive fourth-place finishes in the NFC North before the Nagy hire appeared to right the ship. Although plenty of GMs and pundits were high on Trubisky in advance of the 2017 draft, Pace’s decision to trade four draft picks to move up from the No. 3 overall selection to the No. 2 overall pick to acquire him was widely panned at the time, and the deal has not aged well. While Trubisky has failed to live up to his draft status, 2017 draftmates Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes have become premier signal-callers.

Pace has certainly had his good moments, but one playoff appearance in six seasons generally does not make a club keen to maintain the status quo. The Bears could be in the market for a new GM, a new HC, and a first-round quarterback when the calendar flips to 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

HC/GM Rumors: Lynn, Harbaugh, Bears

Three head coaches and two GMs have already been fired this season, and there will be more dismissals to come. We learned this morning that Eagles HC Doug Pederson is on the hot seat, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Chargers HC Anthony Lynn is in danger of losing his job as well.

The Bolts gave Lynn a modest vote of confidence this offseason by handing him a one-year extension through 2021, but despite the emergence of rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert, Lynn’s squad has limped to a 3-8 record. Several of those losses have been of the heartbreaking variety that Chargers fans have become accustomed to, and Lynn’s in-game decisions have been called into question.

The 51-year-old is highly-regarded in the Chargers’ building, and he did lead his club to a 12-4 record two seasons ago. If he does get fired, he probably won’t have a difficult time finding another HC gig.

Now for more from the HC/GM rumor mill:

  • Jim Harbaugh‘s days with the University of Michigan appear to be numbered, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk says the former 49ers HC is eyeing an NFL return. Florio adds that a number of clubs are already “doing their homework” on Harbaugh, who could be one of a number of prominent college coaches looking to make a leap to the pros.
  • A few weeks ago, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports said the Bears “could” move on from HC Matt Nagy at season’s end. Now, La Canfora says it’s more likely than not that Nagy will be ousted and that Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be Chicago’s top choice for Nagy’s replacement.
  • Although Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has drawn plenty of interest and is expected to get his first HC job this offseason, Kansas City quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Mike Kafka is also a name to watch, per La Canfora. We knew that the Eagles were interested in Kafka as an OC last offseason, and JLC says the 33-year-old former QB also had the opportunity to take a head coaching interview. Kafka declined, as he wanted to continue to learn under Andy Reid, but he will be a top target for HC and OC openings in 2021.
  • As far as GM jobs go, former Giants general manager Jerry Reese is expected to draw interest for the Lions‘ GM opening, as La Canfora writes. Reese, who was fired by Big Blue in 2017, wants to return to an NFL front office and has the support from advisors to the Ford family (including Ernie Accorsi, whom Reese succeeded as Giants GM in 2007).
  • The Texans are expected to interview former Chiefs and Browns GM John Dorsey, according to La Canfora. Dorsey was fired by Cleveland at the end of last season, but it would be fair to blame more of the Browns’ disappointing 2019 campaign on former head coach Freddie Kitchens than on Dorsey. After all, Cleveland is now poised for a playoff berth with a roster that Dorsey largely constructed, and Dorsey also has ties to Bieniemy, who has been heavily connected to Houston’s HC job.
  • An unfortunate neck injury may have brought an end to A.Q. Shipley‘s playing career, but he will get the chance to join the Buccaneers‘ coaching staff, as Carmen Vitali of the team’s official website writes. Shipley has long been a favorite of Tampa HC Bruce Arians, who believes the veteran center has all the makings of an excellent coach.

Extra Points: Bieniemy, Giants, Panthers

Although the Giants are just one game back of the NFC East lead, they are 1-5 and appear on the verge of their fourth straight double-digit loss season. GM Dave Gettleman has presided over the previous two 10-plus-loss campaigns, and some around the league have tabbed the Giants GM job as a potential opening ahead of the 2021 offseason, Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com note. The Panthers‘ GM spot has also surfaced around the NFL as one to monitor. Marty Hurney, in place long before Matt Rhule‘s arrival, has been rumored as a potential chopping-block candidate because of Rhule’s overhaul and seven-year contract. Hurney’s contract runs through 2020. Gettleman made his way back to New York shortly after his Carolina ouster, but his rebuild has not taken off. The Giants have never lost double-digit games in four straight seasons.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Sticking with staffs, the Texans are indeed expected to strongly consider Eric BieniemyDeshaun Watson has advocated for Patrick Mahomes‘ OC, and Graziano and Fowler note the Texans “definitely” have interest in the Chiefs assistant. The Chiefs are prepared to lose Bieniemy this offseason, which would mark the third time they have lost an OC since 2016. Houston is believed to be seeking a quarterback guru and will have Josh McDaniels (again) and Bills OC Brian Daboll on its target list as well.
  • The Bears may not need to make it back to the playoffs for their current power brokers to stay in place. Both Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are believed to be on track to stick around for 2021, per Fowler and Graziano. Chicago’s 5-1 start has come with just a plus-12 point differential, and the team benched Pace’s handpicked quarterback early in the season. Despite Mitchell Trubisky‘s struggles and current backup status, Pace is currently believed to be safe to receive a seventh year as GM.
  • It does not sound like the Chargers are expecting to have Austin Ekeler back anytime soon. The Bolts’ starting running back is battling what Anthony Lynn calls a “very serious” hamstring injury that has him set to be sidelined for the foreseeable future, Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweets. Given a four-year, $24MM extension this offseason, Ekeler went down in Week 4. The Bolts have been without many key players on offense since turning to Justin Herbert in Week 2.
  • Adoree’ Jackson returned to Titans practice Wednesday. The team designated the former first-round cornerback as an IR-return player, making him eligible to face the Steelers in Week 7 — if the team activates him by Saturday afternoon. Jackson landed on IR before Week 1 with a knee injury.
  • The Panthers placed Joey Slye on their reserve/COVID-19 list and brought in kickers for workouts this week. Carolina has auditioned Casey Bednarski (Minnesota State), Taylor Bertolet and Austin Parker (Duke), per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Bednarski began his coronavirus testing with the team Tuesday, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. None of these kickers has NFL experience. Slye has not tested positive but came in contact with someone who had, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes. The Panthers do not have a kicker on their practice squad, but Slye has not been at the team’s facility since Sunday and could still kick in Week 7.
  • The Dolphins conducted an interesting workout Wednesday. They brought in former Seahawks second-round pick Malik McDowell for an audition, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The 2017 draftee has not played an NFL down, with an ATV accident and subsequent legal troubles harpooning his career. The former Michigan State defensive lineman recently spent time in prison after a bevy of charges stemming from a 2019 arrest.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears HC Discusses RBs, Davis, Patterson

The Bears moved on from running back Jordan Howard earlier this week, and the position is now a “major need,” according to Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun Times.

Tarik Cohen did break out in 2018, tallying 1,169 yards from scrimmage and eight total offensive touchdowns. Still, the 23-year-old has proved to be more of a threat in the passing game than the running game. Meanwhile, free agent addition Mike Davis impressed in limited work with Seattle in 2018, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and tallying 34 receptions. However, there’s no guarantee that the veteran can carry the running-side of the platoon.

As a result, the team is focusing on the draft to add a running back. The team doesn’t have their first selection until the third round, but the Bears should have plenty of opportunities to add a weapon to their offense; as Jahns writes, there are plenty of intriguing mid-round running backs in this year’s draft.

Head coach Matt Nagy recently talked with Jahns about the team’s plans for the position, including draft prospects and their free agent additions. We’ve compiled some of the notable soundbites below:

On the running back prospects in the upcoming draft:

“Any coach will tell you there’s a nice group of backs. They all kind of have their unique style. So some of them, they might not have the home-run speed, but he can run you over. This guy might have average hands, but he’s really great between the tackles. They’re all a little different.

“It comes down to, teams that are looking at running backs, what flavor do you like? What kind of ice cream do you like? And then, when you get in the draft, where are they going to be at?”

On how the team evaluates these running back prospects:

“It’s hard to evaluate a lot of guys on tape and get a good feel for them. You try to as much as you can, but to be able to go there and see guys is great. We’ve done it with the quarterback position in years past, and it helps you out a lot.”

On the addition of Davis, who signed a two-year, $6MM contract earlier this month:

“We thought that would be a good addition to our side of the ball on offense. We’re intrigued to get him in and start learning who he is as a person…From all the research we did on him, we thought [Davis] was a great fit.”

On wideout/return man/occasional running back Cordarrelle Patterson, who signed a two-year, $10MM contract:

“We saw a role for him. You see what he did in New England with the jet sweeps, the [end] arounds [and] the screens, and I think that that’s a good fit for him. But for me, it’s kind of like a kid in a candy store.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Rumors: Bears, Nagy, Ravens, Vikings

It’s still unclear if Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will be available to face the Giants on Sunday, but Chicago is confident Trubisky’s shoulder injury won’t turn into a long-term issue, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com tweets. Trubisky missed the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Lions, but Chicago was still able to manage a victory with backup Chase Daniel under center. The Bears have a 98% chance of earning a postseason berth and an 83% chance to win the NFC North, so they may not want to risk Trubisky’s health in what could be another easy win against New York. Trubisky did practice on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), although it was in a limited fashion.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • While Trubisky might be healthy enough to play on Sunday, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco almost certainly won’t be ready for Week 13. Flacco, who is still dealing with a hip issue that has cost him two games, didn’t practice on Wednesday and appears likely to sit out Sunday, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). First-round rookie Lamar Jackson, who has led Baltimore to two victories in his first two starts, figures to be under center again when the Ravens take on the Falcons. Meanwhile, offensive lineman James Hurst returned to practice on Wednesday after being sidelined since mid-October, reports Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Matt Nagy will lead the Bears against the Giants on Sunday, but New York never showed any interest in hiring him as a head coach during the offseason, as he told reporters — including Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link) — on Wednesday. That’s in line with PFR’s 2018 Head Coaching Search Tracker, which shows Nagy only interviewed with the Colts and Bears. The Giants, meanwhile, met with Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Eric Studesville, and Steve Spagnuolo before hiring Pat Shurmur. Nagy, for his part, could take home Coach of the Year depending on how Chicago’s season ends.
  • Speaking of current Bears coaches, Chicago is worried it could lose defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason, as Jay Glazer of The Athletic writes. Fangio has interviewed for two head positions in the past, but both have been with clubs that already employed him (Bears in 2018, 49ers in 2015). While he didn’t land either of those gigs, Fangio could be in line to move into a head coaching role after that’s currently ranked first in DVOA by a relatively wide margin. As Glazer writes, however, Fangio’s age (60) could work against him as many clubs are searching for younger coaches.
  • By going over the 100-catch mark on Sunday, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen triggered an escalator in his contract, tweets Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Thielen, who inked an incredibly team-friendly extension last spring, will now see his 2019 base salary increase from $3.85MM to $5.85MM. If he tops 90 receptions in 2019, Thielen will boost his 2020 salary from $5.35MM to $7.35MM.

AFC Rumors: Jets, Nagy, Conley, Bengals

Todd Bowles and Matt Nagy will face off Sunday when the Jets head to Soldier Field, but this matchup’s visiting coach wanted Nagy to be his offensive coordinator last year, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports. The Jets ended up hiring the since-fired John Morton to be their OC in 2017, but Mehta writes Bowles’ top choice to replace Chan Gailey was Nagy, whom he’s known for decades. However, Nagy did not take an interview, continuing as Andy Reid‘s top offensive lieutenant with the Chiefs. Reid did not want to lose Nagy, per Mehta. Nagy stayed in Kansas City and served as a part-time play-caller last season. That ended up being a critical decision, with Nagy overseeing a dynamic Chiefs offense — one that continued to incorporate college concepts and doubled as one of the league’s most innovative attacks — and the season leading to the Bears hiring him as their head coach. Jeremy Bates is now the Jets’ OC.

Here’s the latest out of the Big Apple and other AFC cities:

  • Bilal Powell‘s career may be in jeopardy. The Jets placed their longtime passing-down running back on IR today, and the neck injury Powell’s sustained will need to be surgically repaired. Bowles said (via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, Twitter link) this could be a career-threatening setback. Powell’s played with the Jets since arriving in New York as a fourth-round pick in 2011. He’s by far the longest-tenured Jet, having served as a backfield complement to the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Ivory and Matt Forte.
  • Patrick Peterson is either off the market, or the Cardinals are orchestrating an impressive smokescreen, so cornerback-needy teams will need to look elsewhere. Some are gauging whether the Raiders would trade another Reggie McKenzie first-round pick, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting teams are inquiring about Gareon Conley. Janoris Jenkins is the other player contenders are monitoring, but Conley is only in his second season. He is, however, one of the many Raiders who’ve seen their stock drop under Jon Gruden. The Raiders benched Conley prior to their London game; he’d started the previous five Oakland games after missing almost all of his rookie season due to a shin injury. However, the Raiders aren’t believed to be ready to part with Conley. JLC adds the Eagles, Patriots and Steelers are among the teams exploring what it would take to land a corner.
  • An NFLPA grievance against the Bengals filed on behalf of Eric Reid did not go in the union’s favor, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports. An arbitrator denied the grievance, ruling the Bengals were within their rights to ask the then-free agent safety if he planned on continuing to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. The NFLPA argued the Bengals passed on Reid solely because of the anthem controversy, per Garafolo. Now on the Panthers, Reid has knelt during the anthem with Carolina. His collusion grievance against the NFL is still pending and isn’t expected to be heard in the near future, Garafolo adds.

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.