Raiders' Jon Gruden on Khalil Mack: 'It's Hard to Trade One of the Best Players'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2018

Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) in the first half during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden made a play toward the future when he and the team traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears, but he appears to be missing the superstar pass-rusher following an 0-3 start to the 2018 campaign.

"Yeah, it's hard," Gruden said of the Mack trade, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's hard to trade one of the best players on your franchise. It's hard. It's hard on the players. We didn't get anything for him that's going to help us this year."

Oakland could use a pass-rushing piece like Mack considering it is last in the league with three sacks. Opposing quarterbacks have enjoyed plenty of time to sit back in the pocket and wait for routes to develop, which is a major reason the Raiders are struggling.

By contrast, the Bears lead the league with 14 sacks. Mack has been an individual force for the NFC North leaders, but even his mere presence has helped open rushing lanes for his teammates. He requires a double-team on almost every passing down, which allows the likes of Akiem Hicks and others to generate pressure in single coverage.

In fact, Mack is essentially outperforming the entire Raiders defense by himself:

The silver lining for Raiders fans is the fact Chicago gave them its 2019 and 2020 first-round picks, in addition to a 2019 sixth-round pick and 2020 third-round pick. Oakland gave the Bears a second-round pick and conditional fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft in addition to Mack.

Gruden can theoretically use those draft picks—and the money saved by not signing Mack to a long-term deal—to find a future superstar, but the Raiders already had one before this trade.

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