Monster of the Midway

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The NFL world was rocked early on Saturday morning when the Chicago Bears pulled off one of the biggest trades in recent memory to acquire Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders. Later that day, Chicago made Mack the highest paid defender in the history of football.

Mack, the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and a three-time Pro Bowler, did not seem to be a priority to Oakland’s Head Coach Jon Gruden. The Raiders hired Gruden back to the head coaching position in January with a 10-year, $100 million deal.

Mack’s holdout grew more serious as the weeks went by, but still no one seemed to believe that he would be moved. But Gruden must have had ideas to trade his star pass rusher all along. He never so much as spoke to Mack throughout the process and seemed to downplay his worth every step of the way.

Oakland’s price was two first round picks, which they received from the Bears on Saturday morning. The Raiders will enjoy Chicago’s top selection in 2019 and 2020 on top of a third-rounder in 2020 and a sixth rounder in 2019. Along with Mack, the Bears picked up Oakland’s second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional fifth-round pick that same year. Chicago then wasted no time signing Mack to a six-year, $141 million extension ($90 million guaranteed). He is 27.

Optimism was at an all-time high throughout the offseason among Bears fans, who have endured pathetic football for the better part of the decade. Now it seems that the only similarity between last year's campaign and the 2018 squad will be the uniforms.

One would be hard pressed to find a deadlier defensive front seven than that of the Bears with Khalil Mack in the mix. Mack will lead a pass rushing attack opposite Leonard Floyd with Danny Trevathan and rookie Roquan Smith in the middle. With a strong secondary whose job just became a whole lot easier, a healthy season for the Bears on defense could result in a dominant campaign for the unit.

Chicago added multiple weapons at the receiver position in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and the promising rookie Anthony Miller. The Bears will once again boast two capable backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen with tight end Trey Burton now on board. The biggest question marks will come on the offensive line and with second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Trubisky was the first gutsy addition by Chicago’s General Manager Ryan Pace, who traded up one spot in the 2017 NFL Draft to select the North Carolina product second overall. With so many changes from a season ago, including a new head coach in Matt Nagy, it mine as well be Trubkisy’s rookie year all over again. While the offense is talented, expect it to take some time to fully gel. The Bears are now a part of the NFC playoff conversation, but this will still be a tall order with the strength of the North and the conference as a whole.

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