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Raiders Make Clear Choice in Trade of Mack

Raiders Make Clear Choice in Trade of Mack

In what felt like a complete sucker punch to fans in Raider Nation, the team’s trade of generational superstar Khalil Mack and it’s scope and outcome won’t be known for several years. What is clear is the Raiders made a choice not to pay the superstar and instead trade him.

The headline we chose to announce the reported news of the  Khalil Mack trade to the Chicago Bears was apropos: speechless.

As Raider Nation wakes from its Friday slumber to discover the news, it might be helpful for them to become familiar with the Seven Stages of Grief:

  1. Shock
  2. Denial
  3. Anger
  4. Bargaining
  5. Depressions
  6. Testing
  7. Acceptance

The Oakland faithful will experience every bit of those stages over the next few weeks (and probably the entire 2018 season) as they try and figure out how their beloved team, and its top defensive player, could never come to an agreement to keep Mack in the silver and black. For most observers, including this one, it’s baffling and unsettling.

In my view, it has less to do with the ability to afford the most talented defender in all of football and more to do with the desire not to pay Mack the highest defensive salary in the NFL.

One of the first explanations bandied about with the news, and the rumors over the past several weeks leading up to the blockbuster deal, was how Raiders owner Mark Davis just couldn’t afford Mack. This became especially true after yesterday’s news of the massive contract given to talented Los Angeles Rams defender Aaron Donald. Donald’s deal set the market and many say Davis and the Raiders just couldn’t afford him.

In my view, it has less to do with the ability to afford the most talented defender in all of football and more to do with the desire not to pay Mack the highest defensive salary in the NFL.

That may be hard to stomach for many, and as they continue through the Five Stages of Grief and deny it could be possible, I tend to believe it’s the truth. I am not defending it nor saying it was the right move, but more and more I believe the Raiders believe they were better off trading him now for a gamble on the future.

It’s a gamble that could backfire and backfire badly. Trading what many consider to be a future Hall of Famer doesn’t seem to have much upside.

Draft picks are valuable in the NFL but none of them is a sure thing. Mack is a sure thing and he’s already proven his worthiness and value for four years in the league. That’s why I believe general manager Reggie McKenzie and Gruden aren’t rubes making a bad deal, they wanted to deal Mack. It was part of whatever plan they have for the future of the franchise.

As hard as that is to accept, it has less to do with having the money pay Mack and more to do with not wanting to pay him the money he deserves. That will drive Raiders fans crazy but, to me, that’s the level-headed view of the events that have transpired.

Gruden’s critics are already using this deal as more proof of how the coach has lost touch with football after being away from the sidelines on Monday Night Football for a decade. Others are using it to bash McKenzie for a “failed” negotiation with Mack.

Whether either of those is true is certainly open for interpretation. What is fact is Mack is gone and the Raiders move forward with whatever their master plan is.

Even if it works out in the long run, today is a day that will live in infamy for Raider Nation until the team wins a Super Bowl or the bounty received in the deal nets out another generational player like Mack.

Scott Gulbransen is an accomplished broadcasting, social media, public relations, writing pro, and thought leader and the founder, host and executive producer of Silver and Black Today on the Raiders flagship station Raider Nation Radio in Las Vegas. He has managed and led public relations, social media and digital marketing at some of America's largest brands and is the former Global Head of Digital Content at Haymon Boxing, creators of the Premier Boxing Champions series.

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