Make no mistake: The price tag for acquiring Mack is steep, from draft picks (first-rounders in 2019 and 2020, a third-round selection in 2020 and a sixth-round pick in 2019) to an extension (six years, $141 million extension including $90 million guaranteed and $60 million at signing) that makes Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Bears are poised to send the Oakland Raiders the most compensation for a defensive player since Minnesota acquired defensive end Jared Allen from Kansas City in 2008 for a first-round pick, two third-round choices and a swap of sixth-rounders. Allen then signed a six-year, $74 million deal with $31 million in guarantees and went on to record 85.5 sacks with the Vikings.
Like the Vikings did with Allen, the Bears are getting Mack at the height of his powers. Mack, who turned 27 in February, is in the prime of his career with 40.5 sacks over four seasons in Oakland.
The Bears may not yet be the favorites to win the NFC North -- after all, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league and Chicago's second-year passer, Mitchell Trubisky, still has much to prove -- but the chance to acquire an elite defender such as Mack is too enticing to pass up, no matter the cost.
Mack isn't an over-the-hill mercenary. The Bears, desperate to return to the postseason for the first time since 2010, have tried in recent years to sign older players (Antrel Rolle, Eddie Royal, Allen, etc.) to plug holes, only to see that philosophy backfire. This past offseason, however, the Bears committed sizeable resources to sign younger players in free agency such as Allen Robinson (25), Trey Burton (26) and Taylor Gabriel (27).
Mack fits right into that mold -- and he joins a defense under the guidance of venerable coordinator Vic Fangio that many believe is ready to be a top-10 unit.
The Bears actually generated a decent pass rush last season (42 sacks), but Chicago hasn't had a player record double-digit sacks in a single season since Willie Young (10) in 2014.
Mack has registered at least 10 sacks in each of the past three seasons.
While Chicago is poised to pay a hefty price tag of draft picks for Mack, the Bears don't expect to be selecting in the top 10 next spring. They are a franchise on the rise, with a younger core that features Leonard Floyd, Kyle Fuller, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan -- and now, Mack.
At the very least, the Bears ought to hover around the .500 mark in 2018.
It's highly unlikely the Bears would find an impact player like Mack drafting somewhere in the mid-to-late first round. The fact that Mack is even available is a major upset in itself. The Bears had to seize the opportunity.
Mack might not be the move that puts Chicago over the top, but trading for a 27-year-old game-changer on defense is a no-brainer.
The Bears just got significantly better. It's hard to make that same argument about the Raiders.