FIRE UP THE NFL TRADE MACHINE.
After a well-documented week showcasing just how out of touch new Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is with his players, NFL media and fans alike have started fanning the flames to fuel trade rumors regarding all-pro defensive end Khalil Mack.
Trading such high-caliber players, especially at this point in the season, is extremely unlikely and very little precedence exists for it. Add in the fact the Mack is in the final year of his contract and his new team faces the possibility of spending a lot of capital on potentially a one-year rental if he doesn’t want to re-sign, the probability plummets even more. However, the Raiders have operated in a very unorthodox way since bringing Gruden back on board, so is it totally out of the realm of possibility for this to come to fruition?
Just for fun, let’s take a lot around some of the other NFL teams and create conjecture about some potential landing spots if the Raiders do choose to make the mistake of moving Mack.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
With new general manager Brian Gutekunst taking over in Green Bay, this ain’t your uncle’s Packers team that sits on their hands and banks on their quarterback play. While the Packers only have around $7 million in cap space per Spotrac and still need to finagle an extension with Aaron Rodgers, they are projected to have about $35 million in space for 2019.
One creative solution to create immediate space in the amount of over $11 million is to offer LB Clay Matthews in a deal. The 32-year-old former Trojan would feel right at home in California to finish his NFL career and would fit Gruden’s apparent preference of acquiring aging veterans. Add in the fact that the Packers have two 2019 first round picks and that is a very, very tough proposition for Oakland to turn down. If the Saints felt rookie DE Marcus Davenport was worth two first round picks, why wouldn’t Mack be? Mack would immediately make the Packers, already an early Super Bowl favorite, the team to beat in the NFC this season.
PACKERS RECEIVE: DE/LB KHALIL MACK
RAIDERS RECEIVE: DE/LB CLAY MATTHEWS, 2019 1ST ROUND PICK, 2019 1ST ROUND PICK (f/ NO)
Flush with over $50 million in cap space and a pedestrian defense on paper, Indianapolis would be a logical landing spot for Mack. Currently rolling into preseason with Tarrell Basham and rookie Kemoko Turay competing for the starting weakside defensive end position, Mack would be an enormous upgrade and give the Colts a cornerstone off the edge to build their defense around.
Frank Reich saw first-hand how crucial waves on the defensive line were last season en route to a Super Bowl with the Eagles, and there’s no doubt he would like to implement that approach in Indy. The Colts could negotiate an extension with Mack before the trade even goes down to insure long-term security, and they have two 2019 second round picks in addition to a likely top five selection to offer as collateral.
COLTS RECEIVE: DE KHALIL MACK
RAIDERS RECEIVE: 2019 1ST ROUND PICK, 2020 2ND ROUND PICK, 2020 2ND ROUND PICK (f/ JETS)
Potentially killing two birds with one stone, a scenario including disgruntled free safety and Legion of Boom last-man-standing Earl Thomas makes a ton of sense. The Raiders have a big need at free safety on their defense (34-year-old Reggie Nelson is the current starter), and Thomas has already expressed interest in potentially playing in Oakland. For Seattle, Khalil Mack fills the enormous hole at LEO left by the sudden retirement of Cliff Avril and gives them leverage in negotiations with defensive end Frank Clark, who is entering a contract year. Seahawks general manager John Schneider has been active in the trade market as of late (Duane Brown) and a move like this seems totally up his alley.
At first glance, cap space may seem like a potential obstacle to this going down, but fret not. The Seahawks are floating around $10 million in space at the moment following the re-structuring of Duane Brown’s contract, but are projected to be swimming at around $54 million in 2019. Swap out Earl Thomas’ immediate $10.3 million cap number, and this thing is totally feasible. The only issue would be trade compensation for Oakland, as Seattle is bereft of their 2019 second rounder courtesy of the Duane Brown trade. Something like this, however, could work:
SEAHAWKS RECEIVE: DE KHALIL MACK
RAIDERS RECEIVE: FS EARL THOMAS, 2019 1ST ROUND PICK, 2019 3RD ROUND PICK, 2020 2ND ROUND PICK
So what do you think? Do any of these scenarios make sense? Leave a comment below.