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Winners, losers from Khalil Mack's trade to Bears

Just like that: Two teams immediately altered for all of time.

With the Bears forging a deal to acquire All-Pro pass rusherKhalil Mack from the Raiders, Saturday morning doubled as a pivot point for two franchises battling for relevancy in their respective conferences.

Chicago is set to give away a pair of blue-chip, first-round picks, while Oakland is shipping their finest player out the door in return. It's the type of swap that leaves both fan bases swimming in a tonic of questions, excitement and anxiety -- these high-stakes deals always do.

Let's take a look at some winners and losers from the biggest trade since Jimmy Garoppolo floated from Foxborough to The Bay:


First-year Bears coach Matt Nagy: Chicago emerged early in the offseason as a popular pick to rise up after years of ineptitude. Easier said than done in a dangerously stacked NFC, but the addition of Mack gives the Bears a framework of talent that mimics what the Raiders boasted when they pulled off a 12-win season two years ago: A promising young quarterback and arguably the finest defensive player in the NFL.

To go along with Mitch Trubisky and Mack, Chicago has a young coach in Nagy who left Kansas City adorned in accolades and flowery praise from Chiefs figurehead Andy Reid. After drifting through the North for eons with the likes of Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman and John Fox, the Bears believe they've hit gold with Nagy. That hope is anchored in his ability to play-call games with a unique blend of innovation and unpredictability, but now it's fair to ask: Will Chicago be led, instead, by the defense?

Mack immediately changes what every offensive coordinator facing the Bears must consider from snap to snap. His presence is ghastly news for any cowed tackle facing Chicago's defensive front, with Mack the kind of player who can line up all over the field, disguise his intentions and wreak nuclear-level fallout on the pocket. Joining an already-intriguing unit, Mack morphs the Bears into one of the game's must-watch defenses, giving Nagy a tremendous advantage heading into his inaugural campaign.

Long-badgered Bears fans used to getting slapped around by the rest of the NFC: The football landscape, for years, has dismissed the Bears as a largely dull, questionably run franchise absent of a master plan for success. As a result, one of the game's finest fan bases has been left to suffer, serving as second-fiddle to a revolving door of NFC power squads. No longer. This immediately becomes a team that looks attractive to shadowy league figures and network executives piecing together prime-time schedules for years to come.

Chicago general manager Ryan Pace: The Bears roster still needs work, but major pieces are in place on both sides of the ball, offsetting the lack of future first-round picks. Pace will be measured by Mack's production, but it takes determination and surety to pull off this kind of deal with a swath of fellow front offices zeroing in. Fortune favors the bold, and Pace has flipped the switch on one of the gutsiest swaps in a decade.

Demarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney and Leonard Williams: Pass-rushers and defensive behemoths are not all created equal, but with Mack set to break the bank one day after Aaron Donald did the same, it's a fine time to be a young, quarterback-crushing star heading toward contract talks. Lawrence, Clowney and Williams are the some of the premier names approaching second contracts. These deals might not play out as neatly as the quarterback market, where every big-name passer spends a few months as the league's richest player, but the bubbling salary cap and baseball-like money being tossed about are excellent harbingers of direct-deposit glory for today's young defensive gems.

Chicago coordinator Vic Fangio: Let's cycle back to this evolving Bears defense, which already boasted its share of juicy talent. Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks anchor a solid front line, while the secondary has players of its own in Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. The middle of the unit is led by speedy linebacker Roquan Smith beside the versatile Danny Trevathan. This enviable corps of defenders now orbit one of the scariest pass-rushing duos around in Leonard Floyd and Mack -- the latter who can shrug off double teams, blow up the run and blast into the backfield with intentions to create ultra-havoc. Fangio, one of the games more underrated coordinators, is likely flashing back to the Niners defense he commanded under Jim Harbaugh. This group has that kind of potential.

Khalil Mack's earthly descendants: Expected to negotiate a long-term deal with the Bears that will surpass the monster six-year, $135 million extension Donald signed with the Rams, Mack is changing life at home forevermore. His children and grandchildren will live vastly different lives. It's not unlike what Jaguars cover man Jalen Ramsey told ESPN's Mina Kimes, saying he wanted to build "generational wealth so that his children can do what they love, just like their dad."

This kind of payday makes everything possible.


The Jon Gruden experience: It's easy to come out of this deal slamming Gruden for shipping another big name out of the building. It's the latest decision in a laundry list of somewhat baffling moves, capping an offseason that looks downright quizzical. This isn't what Raiders fans were expecting when Gruden signed on for $100 million over 10 years, but that contract plays into this: Chuckie is playing the long game. He inherited a sub-par roster filled with players that didn't fit his outlook on pro football -- and one superstar who showed no interest in signing a long-term pact.

The Raiders handled this poorly, operating in contrast to a Rams front office that openly pushed and courted to give Donald what he deserved. It's concerning that Gruden never made a personal push for Mack, but the optimist can point to the draft-day firepower netted in return. You can't label Gruden a winner for hitting the ejector seat on Oakland's top player, but if the Raiders plan to ride with their new coach for the next decade, more time is needed to judge this stunning decision.


Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford: Also: Quarterbacks everywhere with Chicago on their schedule. Especially inside the North, though, where the Bears have long served as mincemeat. Fans are used to seeing Rodgers carve up Chicago's defense and salt games away by halftime, but Green Bay's star passer won't float from cloud to cloud anymore. Meanwhile, Cousins and Stafford are staring at a pair of divisional games against the Bears that look far thornier than they did on Friday night. Mack is the kind of player who can impact a game in ways that resemble what Lawrence Taylor used to give the New York Giants. Every play is an opportunity for dark terror.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie: McKenzie is watching the core he built burnt to the ground in unholy fashion. An easy media target during his early days in Oakland, McKenzie looked wise after a 2014 draft that saw him forge an immediate foundation by selecting Mack and Derek Carr. The quarterback is still around -- with fewer surrounding pieces than Trubisky -- but Oakland's defense just had its heart ripped out of the chest in "Temple of Doom" fashion.

A deeper concern centers around McKenzie's place inside the organization. It was whispered that Raiders ownership wanted no part in trading Mack, but Gruden won that power struggle just as he has all spring and summer. Perhaps McKenzie remains content in his role, but he's seemingly lost his voice inside the organization. This isn't his team anymore. Not by a long shot.

Raiders fans hoping for immediate success: Against expectations, Gruden is overtly tearing this team down instead of maximizing the talent he inherited. Shipping away Mack is a reminder to Oakland fans the club might not take hold until it vanishes to Las Vegas. Raiders fans have lived through the Oakland-to-Los Angeles-to-Oakland moves -- and would seemingly fill out sports bars on Sundays if the Silver and Black played on the fourth moon of Jupiter -- but this remains a letdown. Faithful followers hoping for a quick return to glory under Gruden are receiving a drastically different message from their returned head coach.

The clubs who lost out: It was suggested that everyone from the 49ers, Bills and Browns to the Colts, Jets and Packerswanted in on Mack. Pace and the Bears outbid all comers, so it's fair to assume some of these teams are happy to move on instead of mortgaging the future.

Still, imagine a player like Mack giving the Jets a premier pass-rusher for the first time in a thousand moons? Consider what we'd be saying about the North if Green Bay had pulled this deal out of a hat? How about Cleveland pairing Mack with sensational young whirlwind Myles Garrett?

We'll never know. Mack is Chicago-bound, turning the once milquetoast Bears into a squad to behold.

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