It is rare that perennial talents find their way onto an NFL trade block. But, supposedly, with Khalil Mack, that is exactly what has happened. New head coach Jon Gruden and the rest of the Raiders organization have failed to iron out the details on a long-term deal for Mack. The chances of the Raiders moving the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year are still pretty slim. However, the Green Bay Packers are rumored to be one of the best landing spots for the 27-year-old defender.
Let me just preface this entire discourse with two things. One: Green Bay would never pursue a trade for Khalil Mack without intentions of completing a long-term deal, if not already having agreed upon before the trade goes through. Two: There are little substantiation to these rumors at the moment. The most concrete arguments for the Packers pursuing Mack are Vegas odds and speculation. Now that we’re clear on that, let’s get started.
The Raiders are in a tough spot. If they are unable to lock up Mack long-term, they risk losing out on a generational talent with nearly zero return. Hence the trade rumors. All 31 other NFL teams would gladly acquire Mack’s services. But, that wouldn’t come cheap.
Championships don’t come cheap. This is exactly the mentality that the Green Bay Packers would need to have in order to stomach a deal for Mack. The acquisition of the EDGE defender would likely propel the Packers into the favorite for Super Bowl aspirations.
Now, onto the point of this article today, how much is too much?
Ideally, Green Bay would like to prevent giving up either a core young player or both first round picks in 2019. It is likely that Oakland would ask for a 2019 first round pick (of which Green Bay has two) and something else in return. That something else is the key here.
I fully believe that Green Bay would very willingly part ways with at least one first round pick to land Mack. As they should. Mack has the ability to be a transformational player on the defensive side of the ball. On top of that, he would fulfill one of this team’s biggest needs going into the 2018 season.
The thing about draft picks is that they are full of uncertainty. Every pick is made because of the potential seen in that player. Not every draft pick is able to live up to that potential. The value of a high draft pick is undeniable. Supreme talent on a cost-controlled contract. This is the way of the modern NFL.
The idea is simple. If you can control the cost of a majority of talent, then you have the ability to pay those who are even more incredible talents.
The Packers are notorious for building through the draft. However, as their fans have sorely learned, just building through the draft is not enough. Talent needs to be added from the outside. The team is at a point in their financial standing to be able to afford Mack and not handicap this team elsewhere.
Sure, the team could address multiple needs with two first round picks. However, the chances of them drafting a player of Mack’s ability are pretty slim. The chances of them drafting two of those types of players are even more slim. Some view the draft similarly to a lottery. The more picks, the more chances you have of hitting on one of them. And in a way this is true, however, good teams don’t rely on high draft picks. Instead, their key to success lies in drafting good players in the middle rounds of the draft.
So, do I think that two first round picks is a steep price to pay? Definitely. Do I think that it is too much? For a player of Mack’s caliber, certainly not.
Mack, similarly to Aaron Rodgers, is a generational talent. The last time there was a generational talent on each side of the ball, the Packers made two straight Super Bowl appearances and were arguably some of the best teams Green Bay has ever fielded.
Now, two first-round picks might be my ceiling. That is why I chose that return for the Raiders. Ideally, I would like to see a first plus something else. Whether that something else is a mid-round pick or another player, that would be preferable to another first round pick.
It is easy to justify spending a lot for Mack, both in a trade and in a contract. The Packers will certainly have the money. They will be extending Rodgers soon. On top of that, they have a flurry of funds being freed up moving into the next offseason. The team could sign Mack to an extension right now with little financial recourse.
The only true cost Green Bay needs to be concerned with is what it takes to get Mack. The lack of talented youth and aging experience at the position make it easy to see why Green Bay should consider the move. It simply comes down to how desperate Oakland is to get a quality return on Mack. Although, they still have a number of options that they can deploy to retain him. This is the most likely option in all of this. However, if Green Bay decided to pull the trigger, they certainly have the ammo and it won’t be cheap.