Lake Forest, Ill.– What appeared to be a relatively quiet afternoon for the Chicago Bears soon turned out to be quite surprising. In his first big move as the Bears general manager, Ryan Poles opted to move 31-year old pass rusher, Khalil Mack, in a trade that would net the Bears an additional second-round pick in 2022 and a sixth-round pick in 2023.
For the Bears, the implications of this trade are simple: Moving on from Mack and sending the star pass rusher to the Los Angeles Chargers gives the Bears some much-needed draft capital in a year where the franchise was only projected to have five total draft picks.
Now, the Bears have three picks in the top 100, two second-round picks, and a sixth-round pick, giving Poles some additional draft ammunition to invest into the offensive side of the ball. Los Angeles is also set to take on all of Mack’s contract, which is set to be $69.3M over the next three seasons.
When the Bears traded for Mack just a week prior to the 2018 season beginning, former Bears GM Ryan Pace gave up two first-round picks in the process with the hope of opening the Bears’ Super Bowl window. While Mack and the Bears never won a playoff game, the Bears’ defense was more than solid throughout Mack’s four-year tenure in Chicago.
Mack will finish out his Bears season having played in 53 games, totaling 36.0 sacks, 163 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, 52 quarterback hits, and 14 forced fumbles. While his 2021 season was cut short due to a foot injury, Mack also battled back and knee injuries throughout 2019 and 2020, often playing, despite not being at full strength.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for the Bears and Mack once Poles arrived. While Mack still has a number of productive seasons left, Poles shipping Mack off makes something clear: The Bears aren’t willing to go ahead and gamble on an aging superstar who’s seen a decline in production over the last three years while being unable to stay healthy.