Jon Gruden tries to defend Khalil Mack trade

Oakland Raiders

Jon Gruden is standing firm on his decision to trade Khalil Mack, but we’re still not convinced that this was a good idea.

The Oakland Raiders, and in particular head coach Jon Gruden, have come under heavy fire in the last few days after they decided to ship Khalil Mack and a second round draft pick to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a pair of first round picks.

Mack is one of the best, if not THE best, defensive players in the NFL and he is smack dab in the middle of the prime of his career. It was a head-shaking move by Gruden, and it seems like he is all-in on sending this Raiders team into full-on rebuild mode.

While he’s enduring intense criticism for this trade, he still hasn’t wavered from his stance that it was the right move for Oakland to make at this time.

“It wasn’t my goal to trade Khalil when we got here,” Gruden said, according to USA Today via the Associated Press. “One of the reasons I’m here is because of him. Unfortunately, we had a standoff with a contract, and we could not come to terms. The Bears made us an offer of two first round draft choices and here we are today.”

After the Bears acquired Mack through the trade, they immediately did what the Raiders failed to do: give Mack a contract. Without missing a step, Chicago signed Mack to a six-year, $141 million extension to make him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.

If the Raiders could have inked Mack to a long term contract, they wouldn’t have to go into rebuild mode. Mack alone would give them a respectable defense. They have a more-than-competent quarterback in Derek Carr, who is in his prime at 27 years old. Gruden has retooled the offense to give Carr more pieces to work with, such as adding wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

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That might not be a Super Bowl-winning team, but it’s a team that can at least be a threat in a fairly weak AFC. But with Mack gone, Oakland’s defense is more or less shot, and Gruden seems to be OK with rebuilding it through the draft.

“We’re trying to draft and develop,” Gruden said. “Obviously the last three draft classes, we haven’t got a lot of production out of yet. I don’t think there’s anybody left from the ’13 draft. The ’15, ’16, ’17 (classes), not much production at all. With that being said, you have to fill holes.”

If that’s the way Gruden wants to go about it, then I guess that’s that. You just have to wonder how many years of Carr’s prime will be wasted in the rebuilding process.

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