Raiders coach Jon Gruden: Don't forget that 'Khalil Mack didn't want to play here'

A week ago, the Oakland Raiders made the shocking decision to trade their best player, Khalil Mack, who also happens to be one of the best defensive players in all of football, to the Chicago Bears for two first-round picks (among other picks that were exchanged in the deal). Now, a day after Mack absolutely exploded in his Bears debut, it's time for the Raiders to spin how it all went down.

According to Jon Gruden, Mack just didn't want to play for the Raiders. And that's why he was traded.

On Monday, before Gruden makes his long-awaited return to the sidelines against the Rams, ESPN released a snippet of an interview with Gruden in which he tries to claim that the thing we're all missing here is that the Raiders actually traded Mack because he "obviously" didn't want to play in Oakland.

"Obviously, Khalil Mack didn't want to play here. That's what's being missed here," Gruden said to Lisa Salters. "He was under contract, Lisa. He was under contract. He never showed up for an OTA. He never showed up for training camp. And obviously wasn't going to show up for the season. Don't forget that. We have to get ready to play. I want players that want to be here, that want to help us put this thing back in high gear." 

Gruden is right that Mack was under contract. His contract didn't expire until after the 2019 season. But that's a far too simplistic way of viewing the situation. 

Mack didn't want to play for the Raiders, but only because the contract he was playing under for the Raiders was paying him far less than he deserved. If the Raiders had offered Mack the contract the Bears quickly gave to him, Mack would be making his 2018 debut in Oakland against the Rams on Monday night.

According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Raiders actually sat "on a contract proposal from the All-Pro for over six months, a proposal that was actually cheaper than what the Bears quickly signed Mack for last week, according to a team source." So, the opportunity was there for six months to get Mack signed and then get him into the building to prepare for the season. Instead, they chose to trade him for two first-round picks, which they hope will turn into players who are as good as ... Khalil Mack.

It's funny, because Gruden constantly pointing out that Mack was under contract with the team actually makes the team look even worse than Mack here. The cruel truth is, Mack was under contract in 2018 and then he could've been franchise tagged for two straight seasons, which means the Raiders controlled his football future for three more seasons, and the Raiders still let him walk out the door anyway. The NFL, as a league, is designed to prevent 27-year-old generational superstars from moving teams. This isn't supposed to happen. And the Raiders let it happen.

Now, the Raiders will enter the 2018 season with a $125 million quarterback who didn't look like one last season, a coach who, after a decade away from coaching, concluded his first offseason in charge by giving away his best player, and the oldest roster in football. I cannot see how any of this will go wrong.

Meanwhile, let's check in on Mack:

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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