The Chicago Bears traded for Khalil Mack on Saturday morning, and the implications are both enormous and immediate.
The benefit is clear. You add a devastating presence off the edge and vault a top-10 defense into the upper echelon of the NFL.
However, there are also very real consequences, with many likely already assumed and others sure to be realized in hindsight. The price was exorbitant, but that’s what it costs to do this sort of business and the Bears were obviously fine with that.
They made the trade knowing full well that if it didn’t work out it would cost people their jobs. You don’t recover from shipping off two first-round picks and investing nearly $25 million in cap space in a defender easily.
Again, that’s something they felt they could live with years from now if the time comes to pass. More immediately, it might be Mitchell Trubisky who feels the most heat.
Given everything that’s been invested, obviously it will be imperative that Mack makes a major impact. But all he has to do is be what he’s been over the last three seasons to make it all worth it.
However, with the Mack acquisition accelerating the timeline, there’s now enormous pressure on Trubisky and new Bears coach Matt Nagy to produce offensively.
The Bears did everything they could this offseason to put their franchise quarterback in a comfortable offense. They hired Nagy and then surrounded him with a slew of weapons (Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, etc.). But prior to the Mack trade, it’d have been understandable if the offense remained a work in progress into 2019.
Thanks to the Mack trade, the loss in draft picks and cap space from his contact extension make adding potential reinforcements to the offense difficult. So the weapons Trubisky has now is what he’ll be expected to compete at a high level with.
With what we assume will be a top-five defense in tow, the pressure is on Trubisky. If he and the offense hold this franchise back again, confidence will wane. It won’t take long before radio waves are overcome with thickly-accented sausage lovers who butcher names on every side of the equation.
“Dat Trubinsky guy can’t hit da brawd side of a baern. We gotta see what dat Chase Daniels can do,” they’ll say.
The joke is low-hanging fruit, but it’s a genuine problem in Chicago sports and specifically with the Bears. You can’t trust the McCaskeys not to be influenced by the majority or vocal minority. And God forbid the idea that Trubisky sucks because he’s not already Carson Wentz becomes a populist take.
With Mack comes the idea that the Bears become playoff contenders immediately. That’s not exactly unreasonable either.
The Bears defense was already the strength of the roster, and Mack takes them to a new level. But if the offense is still one of the worst in football as they were in 2017, they’re not going to survive in a deep and talented NFC North.
Before Nagy and other potentially under-performing playmakers face the scrutiny, Trubisky will be the guy who bears that burden first. That’s not fair, but it’s the new reality.
Any cushion Trubisky had to ease his way into this offense disappeared when two first-round picks went out the door. In the end, that’s not enough of a reason to say that the Bears shouldn’t have done this trade. It’s just a possible consequence you have to deal with.