How The Bears Pulled Off The Mack Blockbuster

September 02, 2018 - 8:08 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Pride was ever present at Halas Hall on a memorable morning for the Bears. 

There was pride in the smiles of Sandy and Yolanda Mack as they looked on at their son addressing his future as the NFL's highest-paid defensive player ever. There was pride in the tone of general manager Ryan Pace for pulling off such a blockbuster deal. There was even pride the voice of a Bears player who hit the brakes of his SUV and yelled out: One hundred and forty-one million dollars!

Khalil Mack arrived to the Bears on Sunday morning as the newest superstar in Chicago, signing a record-breaking six-year deal worth that $141 million and $90 million guaranteed. From the billboards already minted throughout Chicago to the fist pumps of Sandy with Khalil's every word, it was a proud day all around.

"I've always thought of myself as the best defensive player in the league, and I want to play like the best defensive player in the league," Mack said during his introduction with the Bears. "I want to be the best at what I do, and that's just me. That's what comes with Mack."

The circumstances by which Mack became a Bear were unique, with the Raiders unable to reward Mack as the league's highest-paid defensive player and forced to find a team that could. 

Chicago and the Bears have a new star in Khalil Mack.

— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) September 2, 2018

Ever since becoming Bears general manager, Pace has operated with clean books and ultimately created the cap space available within the rookie contract window of 24-year-old quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Pace has admirably balanced being bold with acting with care in building his roster. The Bears were positioned to contend and could afford to part with their 2019 and 2020 first-round picks to land Mack, a transformational presence who changes the dynamic of this franchise.

Pace had been following the deteriorating situation in Oakland ever since the start of training camp. From there, Mack's holdout became untenable and his future with the Raiders seemed uncertain. The Rams on Friday then paid defensive tackle Aaron Donald to the tune of six years and $135 million, a record-setting contract for barely one day.

What was Mack's reaction to Donald's deal?

"I can't say it in front of my parents," Mack joked.

By that point, the Raiders had to make a move with Mack. Pace followed it through to Friday night like so many others in his position as Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie began to listen on offers. It all became a reality from there, with a deal early struck Saturday morning. There was little sleep for Pace this weekend, but resting isn't an option when a player of Mack's caliber is available.

Bears chairman George McCaskey offered his blessing on this monumental move for his family's franchise, supporting Pace's latest bold conviction and backing the financial commitment Mack so desired. They all saw the possibilities in store.

"I'm just proud that I work for an organization that's willing to be aggressive in these times," Pace said.

Added Mack: "It's an exciting time to be a Chicago Bear."

Mack, 27, was the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and emerged during his first four seasons as one of the game's premier pass rusher. He has played in all 64 games, recording 40.5 sacks in that time and earning NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016. The numbers are impressive enough. His impact for the Bears defense should be even greater.

In Mack, the Bears added a player who makes everybody on the defense better. As a former AFC West offensive coordinator, Bears coach Matt Nagy understands the importance of Mack, whom he had to prepare for twice a season to keep him off his quarterback. Mack is a player who must be accounted for on every play.

"The word that used to always come to mind for myself was dominance in what he does," Nagy said.

The rival Packers will have to plan for Mack now with the regular-season opener at Lambeau Field a week away. The Bears are a different team now after their big addition. Mack swore by his readiness after missing the entirety of the Raiders' preseason. Come Monday morning, the Bears will begin assessing Mack's game shape and formulating a plan for him in Green Bay on Sunday night.

From there, the Bears can begin working with an elite talent in Mack. Parting with the pair of first-round picks was hardly a concern to Pace, who rationalized it fairly simply: We got Khalil Mack.

Trades of this magnitude are so rare in the NFL, where the salary cap restricts what a front office can do to such a great degree. But the contract itself was fairly simple for the Bears to set with Mack, topping Donald's deal and paying Mack his unquestioned worth. The team announced the addition of Mack and his new contract in the same press release.

By Saturday night, Pace, Nagy and defensive coordinator Fangio were at the hotel with Mack and enjoying a process near completion. Nagy brought his four young sons, who were planning to update their Madden rosters with 98-rated player. They made it all official Sunday morning, with Mack smiling wide after he signed on the dotted line.

"It has been a whirlwind," Mack said. "It happened fast. But I'm blessed and thankful to be here."

Mack now has the kind of wealth a two-star recruit to Buffalo could've only dreamed to attain in football, and the Bears have the kind of special player who general managers dream of drafting. They were a unique match together with the right circumstances combining for a blockbuster deal.

It was a proud day for Mack and the Bears, and they hope for many more to come.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.