The Raiders chose to move on without star pass rusher Khalil Mack before the start of the regular season after sitting 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.
Negotiations never progressed between the Raiders and Mack beyond their initial exchange of proposals shortly after the 2017 season concluded. Raiders officials commented after trading Mack to Chicago roughly a week ago that they never came close to bridging the gap with Mack. "We made an offer," coach Jon Gruden said at a press conference following the trade. "I don't think it was anywhere close to the Bears [offer]."
However, the record-setting contract terms that Mack agreed to -- most ever for a non-quarterback, quickly besting the deal Aaron Donald had just signed with the Rams -- did not look unfamiliar to the Raiders. They were very similar to the terms the team received from Mack's agent, Joel Segal, half a year ago. In fact, the Bears ended up spending more on an annual basis and a guaranteed basis than what the Raiders could have spent to keep Mack months ago, according to the source.
The fact that the Bears not only agreed to such a deal in less than a day after being granted permission to negotiate with Mack to facilitate the trade, and they paid him that return despite parting with two first-round picks as part of the deal, speaks to the way they value that player. League sources said the Jets and 49ers were the final two other teams pushing hardest to try to acquire Mack, and were also prepared to make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, realizing that Mack was going to command similar money to the $22.5 million per year that Donald secured.
The Raiders could not pry multiple first-round picks from those teams, however, while the Bears met their price. The Donald deal crystallized what the Mack contract would look like -- it was well-known throughout the industry Donald was going to sign at some point before Week 1 -- and what the Raiders had long ago come to grips with: They wouldn't be paying Mack $23 million a year, his asking price, to play for them, and some other team would likely meet it once they began shopping him.