Yesterday OddsShark tweeted their updated odds on where they believe disgruntled Oakland Raider Khalil Mack will be playing his 2018 football. The numbers were shocking to say the least.
There’s been a rumor floating around the edges of the internet that the Packers have been kicking the tires on Mack for a few weeks. At first it seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream for Packer fans, but these Las Vegas odds have legitimatized the rumors. The Packer faithful are undoubtedly dreaming about what could be, but it still seems like a long shot. OddsShark, however, did predict the surprise trade of NBA star Kawhi Leonard nearly a month before he was dealt to Toronto just a few weeks ago. They have merit. With that, let’s take a look at how the Packers could pull off this Madden-esque deal and what it would mean for the team moving forward.
What it’s going to take:
First-round draft picks. The Packers currently have the most first-round picks in the NFL for 2019, with two. Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst moved back in this past spring’s first-round in a deal with the New Orleans Saints, acquiring that coveted extra first. The Packers also own one first-round pick in 2020. It certainly will cost one or more of these picks to get the Raiders to bite. The Packers and Saints are both expected to contend, which means both picks should come in the 20+ range, diminishing their value. It may take both 2019 picks or a 2019-2020 first-round combo, plus a throw-in middle rounder/player TBD. The exact scenario is tough to predict, but the Packers will definitely have to part with at least one high draft pick or this dream is dead on arrival.
Bidding farewell to some fan favorites. The Packers have the draft capital to make the trade, but do they have the cap space to sign Mack to the gigantic deal he seeks? The short answer: yes. An Aaron Rodgers deal is coming in the very short-term and all signs point to him getting a record contract. The Packers know what they have with him though and will be sure load that deal as to not kill their cap, while still getting him the money he deserves. Khalil Mack is seeking an $20-$22 million per year deal, similar to Denver’s Vonn Miller. Supposedly the Raiders have no intention of paying him that sum, so it looks like he will be holding out well into the preseason and possibly even into the regular season. Assuming the Packers can trade for him and negotiate that deal, they would presumably need to clear around $24 million dollars off of their salary cap. I’ll avoid too much contract jargon here, but point is, they will have to say goodbye to some household names. Both Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb are up for new deals heading into the 2019 season. Their combined salaries amount to, you guessed it, $24 million per year. We already saw Green Bay part ways with Jordy Nelson this year. The organization knows their window with Aaron Rodgers can’t last forever. They could restructure Clay & Cobb’s contracts for less money, but as we saw with Jordy, that is no guarantee. The positive news is that Green Bay could potentially add Mack, make a run in 2018, and then worry about the 2019 financials in 2019. There are difficult decisions in the future no matter what.
What it would mean:
Trading for Khalil Mack would make the Packers a definitive favorite to win the NFC and the Super Bowl. He is the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, only 27, and has registered double-digit sacks in his past three season. He may very well be the best defensive player in the NFL and he hasn’t missed a game over that three-year span. Knowing the Packer injury woes that has to be enticing.
The Packers also could potentially have the best player on each side of the ball with Aaron Rodgers and Khalil Mack. The deal would make waves throughout the NFL. It would be the biggest acquisition since 1993, when Reggie White shocked the NFL and joined Ron Wolf & Brett Favre to revive Titletown. Each of the Packers’ championships in the modern era have come after huge defensive acquisitions. White came to Green Bay and then led the ’96 defense. Charles Woodson followed suit in 2007 and brought a Lombardi home in 2010 (coming from of all places…Oakland.) Could Khalil Mack complete the trio? It’s certainly possible. He would immediately shore up two key positions, playing a combination of end and linebacker. Add him to a defense that has a new leader in Mike Pettine and a ton of talented, yet, unproven youngsters and suddenly the Packers’ potential knows no bounds.
Brian Gutekunst has a chance to complete a mammoth off season. At the end of the day, football requires stacking as many of the biggest and baddest players on your roster at one time as possible. Gutekunst already added the beef in Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Mercedes Lewis. He now has a chance to add one of the baddest mama jamas of them all in Khalil Mack. The only question left is: What in the hell are we waiting for?