ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has ranked the Bears’ acquisition of outside linebacker Khalil Mack as the NFL’s most impactful trade of the last 365 days.
The Bears acquired the 2016 NFL defensive player of the year from the Raiders Sept. 1 along with a 2020 second-round pick and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick in exchange for their 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick and 2019 sixth-round pick.
Mack helped lead the Bears to a 12-4 record and the NFC North title. He topped the team with 12.5 sacks, a career-high six forced fumbles and 18 quarterback hits. He also ranked second with 10 tackles-for-loss. The fifth-year pro was named first-team All-Pro and voted to his fourth straight Pro Bowl.
Mack’s 12.5 sacks were the most by a Bears player since Hall of Famer Richard Dent also had 12.5 sacks in 1993. Mack’s 12.5 sacks tied for the third most in franchise history behind Dent’s 17.5 in 1984 and 17.0 in 1985.
Mack helped anchor a dominating defense that led the NFL in takeaways (36), interceptions (27), interceptions for touchdowns (5), rushing yards allowed (1,280), rushing TDs allowed (5) and lowest opponent passer rating (72.9).
Here’s what Barnwell wrote about the trade being the NFL’s most impactful of the last year:
“What else could top this list? The Bears were better than you thought on defense in 2017 and extremely likely to improve in 2018, but Mack took the defense to another level. He thoroughly dominated in the first half of the Week 1 opener against the Packers, and while the Bears ended up losing that game, he was a game-changing force for most of the season. Mack finished with 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. The Bears would have been a good defense without him, but when he wasn't 100 percent, Chicago allowed 31 points to the Dolphins and 24 points to the Patriots before unsurprisingly dominating Sam Darnold and Nathan Peterman while Mack rested his ankle. I don't need to tell you Mack was great.
“The Raiders, meanwhile, finished the year with just 13 sacks on defense, the second-worst total of the past 20 seasons. Mack wouldn't have saved the Raiders from an obscure 2018 campaign, but they had absolutely no solution in his absence. They will almost certainly have to use at least one of the picks they get from the Mack trade to go after a pass-rusher, and the chances of that defender coming close to Mack's impact aren't particularly high.
“Judging a trade like this after one year isn't really fair in most cases. The Raiders haven't even drafted any of the players who would form the return of this deal. Given that the Raiders reportedly chose Chicago's offer because they expected the Bears to return high draft picks, though, it's hard to argue that they scouted their possibilities well. It also served as the white flag for Oakland's season before it even began. The most impactful trades in a typical season will transform one team. This trade transformed two.”