Photo: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle
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Khalil Mack grinned Sunday when asked, in hindsight, how being traded from the Raiders to the Bears just before this season has worked out for him.
“How you think it worked out?” Mack replied.
Mack, the All-Pro edge rusher who spent last offseason in a contract impasse with the Raiders, signed a record six-year, $141 million extension with Chicago shortly after being traded Sept. 1. He is disrupting opposing offenses for a team that is 11-4 after a 14-9 win over the 49ers on Sunday, headed for the playoffs as winner of the NFC North.
So yeah, Khalil, how did that trade work out?
“I feel like it’s pretty obvious to me,” Mack said at his locker after Sunday’s game. “But yeah, in the end, ultimately, you have the end goal to get to the big game. So that’s all that came on my mind.”
The Raiders, who took a 3-11 record under head coach Jon Gruden into their home finale Monday night, traded Mack, the 2014 first-round draft pick and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, to the Bears for draft assets in a deal that arguably charted a course for both teams.
Gruden had vowed before training camp to bring in Mack from his holdout. But days before the season, with the edge rusher still absent, the Raiders dealt Mack, a 2020 second-round draft pick and a 2020 conditional first-round pick to the Bears in exchange for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a 2019 sixth-round pick and a 2020 third-round pick.
Then-general manager Reggie McKenzie said the Raiders had offered Mack a long-term deal in March but “weren’t close” to numbers counter-offered by Mack’s camp. Gruden said that with Week 1 nearing, the Raiders’ “feeling was (Mack) was not going to report anytime soon.”
Gruden also said the size of the extension Mack received in Chicago, making him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, was “something we could not do.”
Mack did not record a sack Sunday, but has 12.5 on the season — more than the entire Raiders team (12) had entering Monday night’s game. Mack’s departure from Oakland was followed by those of Amari Cooper (traded), Bruce Irvin (cut) and McKenzie, who was fired Dec. 10.
McKenzie, who drafted Mack, said he chose the Bears as a partner for the possibility of better draft position in the next two years. Instead, partly because of Mack’s play, the first-round pick the Raiders receive from Chicago in 2019 will fall in the 20s.
Mack on Sunday said the trade was “so long ago” that he “can’t really remember” how he felt.
“It was so fast,” Mack said. “But in the end, (we’re) good now — 11 wins, ready to get to 12.”
Heading for the playoffs is “a great feeling,” said Mack, who added: “Last time, it didn’t go so well.” In 2016, the Raiders went 12-4 but lost to the Texans in the wild-card round without quarterback Derek Carr, who’d suffered a broken fibula in Week 16.
Carr also was part of a 2014 draft class that included guard Gabe Jackson and nose tackle Justin Ellis, all still in Oakland. Though the Raiders have undergone heavy turnover this season, Mack said he still feels a connection to former teammates who remain.
“Those are my brothers over there as well,” Mack said. “I put in four years of hard work with those guys and built relationships with their families and their friends. You can’t really compare camaraderie (with the Bears). It’s a brotherhood in both locker rooms. But I’m here now, and obviously, these are my new brothers.”
As Mack dressed, defensive end Akiem Hicks jokingly chided him from a nearby locker for not having a sack Sunday. Mack’s presence was most glaring just after halftime when he pressured 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens on three consecutive throws.
Mack had a fairly quiet game (five tackles, one for loss), but Hicks deflected three passes, linebacker Danny Trevathan intercepted a deflected pass and linebacker Roquan Smith had Chicago’s lone sack. All were already part of the defense into which Mack fell Sept. 1.
“In that situation, you don’t really have a choice,” Mack said. “But at the same time, it was definitely God working in a mysterious way. And I’m blessed to be in this situation, for sure.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/raiders/article/Former-Raiders-DE-Khalil-Mack-blessed-to-be-13487991.php.