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It's Over. Bears Won the Trade

The final verdict is in and the Raiders lost the trade for Khalil Mack. Trading to build for the future takes too long and as Walter Payton said, the future is promised to no one.

Robert Quinn is usually a laid-back, quiet type, at press conferences. 

Yet he actually was laughing Thursday when talking about teammate Khalil Mack and whether he thought the Bears' edge rusher got excited to play against his old team, the Raiders, especially after he didn't get a sack the last time they played in 2019.

"Uh I won't say it's extra fuel," Quinn said. "I mean it's just one of those things about being in this business of the NFL. I mean, you know, you get drafted somewhere and like we all expect we're going to be there forever and than reality sets in. So it was more probably of just a pride thing."

Then it was Quinn who made himself laugh with his own response.

"I mean, I don't know who would ever trade him but ... you know?," Quinn said.

Then Quinn made a wide-eyed face and had to laugh.

That would be Jon Gruden's Raiders, of course.

"Hey, you know, it's one of those things," Quinn said. "Again, you get drafted someplace, especially first round and you think you're going to be there forever but again it's just the name of the game."

NFL Stands for Not For Long

Of course, Gruden and the Raiders made this move and it's been one heavily scrutinized and beaten around ad nauseum. 

Bears fans loved it all along because they had a dominant, star player. What Raiders fans didn't realize or care about was those picks would have been wasted by Bears GM Ryan Pace anyway, maybe for a tackle with a bad back or a receiver who gets ejected from games or a quarterback no one else wanted.

The Raiders fans hated the deal initially because they lost a force on defense, then tried to come to grips with it by parroting the various internet stat-heads, analysts and mouthpieces who said the math all favors a team getting a ton of picks for a player like Mack.

Maybe on paper it does, and if we're talking about computers doing the picking. But we're dealing in the real world and the real NFL world is now. 

Teams don't want to wait for a rebuild. The last two Super Bowl champs weren't exactly long-term projects. Patrick Mahomes did it in his second year. The Buccaneers went out and brought in Tom Brady and whoever he wanted tagging along for the boat ride. 

Put Up the "W" Flag for Bears

Everyone wanted to know who made out the best from this trade and after three years the plain truth for Raiders fans is they lost it. The Bears don't have a Super Bowl for it, but it doesn't detract from their victory in this trade. 

In the future, they might be able to say it was a deal where everyone benefited. But let's face it, the bottom line is wins and losses in the National Football League. The Bears have had two playoff berths including a division title and they never would have had either without Mack. 

They couldn't even get seven wins without Mack the previous four seasons. 

Once he arrived, everything changed for what was already a solid defense. They stepped up two levels. Mack has a bad foot and rib injury now and he's still the force making it possible for them to lead the NFL with 15 sacks.

All of the math gurus and Pro Football Focus types who figured out the better choice in the trade was taking the picks and getting rid of Mack forgot one major factor in all of this.

Time. 

Once again, it's the NFL. It still stands for: Not For Long.

A draft pick needs more time to develop.  Three years to wait is wasting too much time for some draft picks to develop in this league today when one proven superstar in hand already is capable of turning around a team. A coaching staff could be halfway out the door by the time some draft picks blossom.

The Bears spent first-round picks a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder. And don't forget the Raiders also gave up a second-round pick, as well. That second became Cole Kmet, who may or may not be something yet.

The Raiders haven't finished above .500 since their trade. They think they have a playoff team now, but it's three years later. They're still waiting to see for sure  and in that lost time they might have had some wins or playoff seasons. 

No one can be sure.

Running backs are a dime a dozen

Any team making a deal like that must use the picks wisely or it's a complete waste. 

They were given the means to make a strong bid on rebuilding and they used one of the two No. 1 picks they acquired from the Bears for Josh Jacobs, an outstanding back who had a big hand in helping beat the Bears in London in 2019. 

But he is a back. He'd better be the new Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry rolled into one to be a first-round pick these days if he's back.

That's because backs no longer carry the value they did, and this is no secret. Their shelf lives are shorter. They're hurt more often. Jacobs has already missed two games this year with an injury and didn't play three games as a rookie, then another one last year.

A team is better off doing what the Bears did by taking David Montgomery in Round 3 or the Packers did with Aaron Jones in Round 5. 

They're actually probably better off operating with a group of above-average running backs who are role players while loading up the offensive line with premium talent. The Raiders never did this with those two first-round picks the acquired from the Bears. They took Jacobs. 

They also took cornerback Damon Arnette with the other first-round pick. He hasn't played more than 30% of the snaps in a game this year and isn't even a starter. He played in only nine games as a rookie.  

With the third-round pick, they took wide receiver Bryan Edwards, an X-type receiver who had 11 catches in 2020, or 50 less than the Bears' fifth-round pick in that same draft, Darnell Mooney. 

Edwards does show promise, as he has 11 catches this year. Maybe he'll develop into a player in a few years. There's that phrase again: In a few years. No one wants to wait for that these days. Rookies better hit right away.

The final proof from last summer

That's all in the distant future and might not even happen. By then Mark Davis might decide to blow everything up. 

Or maybe the Raiders do get into the playoffs a few times in the future and Edwards and Jacobs have vital roles but neither of them nor Arnette are the primary reason an entire team was elevated as the Bears were by Mack.

The final proof of who won the trade? 

It happened this past summer when, according to a report by Vic Tafur of the Athletic, the Raiders asked Pace about trading to get Mack back.

That's the kind of call when you say nothing, you just hang up the phone like it's a telemarketer and you laugh.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven