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Bears acted quickly, aggressively to land Mack


When the rare opportunity to acquire a 27-year-old perennial Pro Bowl pass rusher presented itself, the Bears didn't hesitate to make the bold move.

General manager Ryan Pace discussed Saturday's blockbuster trade with the Raiders that landed Khalil Mack at an introductory press conference Sunday.

"This is a premier player at a premier position, and this doesn't come around that often," Pace said. "When it does come around, I'm just proud that I work for an organization that's willing to be aggressive in these times and that [coach] Matt [Nagy] and I have the support to be aggressive and that starts with our ownership.

"When you feel like you can have that backing and act aggressively and quickly to make moves for this franchise, that's what we did."

Mack spent his first four seasons with the Raiders, appearing in all 64 games and recording 327 tackles, 40.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. A two-time All-Pro selection, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft was voted to three Pro Bowls and named the 2016 NFL defensive rookie of the year.

The trade for Mack was the boldest move the Bears have made since they moved up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second pick in last year's draft.

"When you talk about being aggressive, it's easy when you're talking two positions specifically, quarterback and pass rusher," Pace said. "We are going to emphasize those positions.

"When a guy like [Mack] becomes available in the prime of his career, and not just the physical talent, the person that he is too, you've got to be willing to act. We're never going to be a team that's going to sit back—we talk about sit on your hands. It's very easy in our league to play it safe and play it cautious, and not that we're going to be reckless, but we're going to be aggressive."

Pace conceded that he's been only getting a few hours asleep each of the past few nights.

"For me, there's a moment where the window's open to improve our team," Pace said, "and you've got to maximize those windows, and then they close. Sleep just becomes a non-factor."

Acquiring Mack was especially important for the Bears given that they'll play two games against the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, the Vikings' Kirk Cousins and the Lions' Matthew Stafford.

"They are some special quarterbacks that defenses need to prepare for," Nagy said. "They need to have a plan for all three of those guys. Anytime you add a guy of Khalil's ability, you just know that you're helping yourself out. It's so important for us because he's closest to the quarterback. He gets to affect the quarterback every play."

As part of the trade, the Bears received the Raiders' second-round draft pick in 2020. The five players Pace has selected in the second round as Bears general manager have been nose tackle Eddie Goldman in 2015, center Cody Whitehair in 2016, tight end Adam Shaheen in 2017 and offensive lineman James Daniels and receiver Anthony Miller in 2018.

"Getting that second-round pick back in 2020 was important," Pace said. "In that draft, we're going to have two twos, and I think we've proven in the second round we can get high caliber players. That was important because you're talking about draft capital and also financial resources you're giving up. But fortunately, we're in a really good space with our salary cap, and so our roster can handle this right now. We're a young team with a lot of depth we feel good about."

The Bears have traded their first two picks in next year's draft, packaging their first-round choice in the Mack trade after dealing their second-round selection to move up to pick Miller.

"When we look at this next draft, our first-round pick is Khalil Mack and our second-round pick is Anthony Miller and the next draft we have two twos," Pace said. "I'll take that. We can do some damage there."

Pace is excited about what Mack will bring not only to the field but to the locker room.

"You can feel his leadership, work ethic, professional demeanor, how much he cares about football," Pace said. "That's the thing that shines right away, how much he loves this game and how passionate he is about this game. You can just feel his energy; how eager he is to put the pads back on and get back at it. Those kind of qualities are infectious."