The Raiders, then based in Oakland, dealt Mack to Chicago for a slew of picks, including two first-rounders.
Mack’s first season with the Bears came in 2018.
That was also the first year Jon Gruden became head coach of the Raiders.
Now, it appears that Gruden has hoped that trade never went through in the first place.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 23, 2021
Since 2018, the Raiders have compiled an overall record of 19-29 and have missed the playoffs all three seasons.
Chicago on the other hand has gone 28-20 and has reached the playoffs in two out of three years.
One player doesn’t make an entire team, but clearly Gruden and the Raiders understand how talented Mack is.
As Las Vegas enters their fourth season following the Mack trade, it’s fair to wonder if the Raiders made the right call in dealing the star linebacker.
Mack Vs. Raiders
Mack was dealt from the Raiders because he refused to sign a contract extension.
After his deal to Chicago, the Bears inked him to a six-year, $141 million deal that at the time made him the highest-paid defender in the NFL.
In his three seasons with the Bears, Mack has racked up 144 tackles, 30 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles.
He has been named to the Pro Bowl all three seasons and was named All-Pro in 2018.
Heading into the 2021 season, NFL Network ranked him as the 23rd-best player in the league.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 22, 2021
Sacks have been one of the Raiders’ premier weaknesses since Gruden took over in 2018.
Las Vegas ranked 32nd (13) in 2018, 25th (32) in 2019, and 29th (21) in 2020.
Mack alone managed 12.5 sacks in 2018, 8.5 in 2019, and nine in 2020.
Over the past three seasons, Mack would have 45 percent of the Raiders’ 66 total sacks.
Heading into the 2021 season, Las Vegas is poised to start Tanner Muse and Cory Littleton at outside linebacker.
Muse has yet to play an NFL down while Littleton has just 8.5 sacks in his five-year career.
There may not be a better pass rusher in the league than Mack.
He has almost singlehandedly outproduced the entire Raiders defense over the past three years.
But with Las Vegas looking to trade for him back, they were already aware of the talent they gave away.
What They Received
The Bears were never going to trade Mack back to the Raiders, no matter how high his cap number is.
To fairly evaluate the deal from Las Vegas’ perspective, it’s important to look at the players they ended up receiving in the deal.
Chicago traded their 2019 and 2020 first-round NFL draft picks, a third-round pick in 2020, and a sixth-round pick in 2019.
The 2020 third-rounder resulted in wide receiver Bryan Edwards while the sixth-rounder ending up turning into multiple different picks.
Las Vegas also dealt a 2020 second-round pick to the Bears, which landed them Cole Kmet.
Jacobs has been Las Vegas’ starting running back ever since his selection in 2019.
He has started 28 games and has rushed 515 times for 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Jacobs was a 2020 Pro Bowler and finished runner-up to Kyler Murray as the 2019 Rookie of the Year.
Arnette just finished his first season with the Raiders.
He appeared in nine games and started seven, making 25 tackles and defending two passes.
Edwards appeared in 12 games as a rookie with Las Vegas, catching 11 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown.
Arnette is listed as a backup for the Raiders while Jacobs and Edwards are currently starters.
Kmet is the Bears starting tight end heading into this season after catching 28 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
It was always going to be hard for the Raiders to get fair value on Mack.
He is considered one of the best defenders in the entire NFL.
Jacobs seems like a solid building block, but the team brought in fellow running back Kenyan Drake this offseason.
Edwards has been talked up all year, but Arnette isn’t even currently a starter.
Kmet, on the other hand, looks like the Bears’ tight end of the future.
Mack has been a dominant force during his time in the NFL.
Las Vegas has yet to find a defender close to his caliber.
The Raiders haven’t had a defensive player grade over 78.0 since trading Mack in 2018 🤯 pic.twitter.com/qIb66CaVDT
— PFF (@PFF) August 23, 2021
It’s no wonder Gruden and the Raiders tried to bring him back.