Over the last decade, the Chicago Bears have been one of the worst teams in the NFL. The storied franchise has struggled to build a competitive team as its biggest rivals the Packers and Vikings have become powerhouses. Fans have grown tired of watching a loser year after year and support has slowly diminished. Over the last couple of years under new management, however, the front office has slowly rebuilt the team from the bottom up. They have focused on building a ferocious defense, similar to the ones in the 1980’s that dominated the league, and drafted a talented young quarterback who they believe can help them win ballgames. Additionally, this past offseason, the team spent millions of dollars in free agency (which they usually do not do) to add weapons to their offense to create a more complete team. For the first time in years, heading into the season, there was a feeling in Chicago that this team might be building something special. Chicago sports fans are known to be incredibly loyal and supportive of their teams and fans were very pleased with all of the changes that were made. However, even with all of the changes that were made, the team still had a big hole on defense. Who was going to be their premier pass rusher? They lacked a true defensive leader, similar to the likes of Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, who could simply take over a game.
General Manger Ryan Pace has been known to be a big risk taker. Sometimes his decisions don’t pay off, but when they do, they pay huge dividends. Around this time, Khalil Mack, one of the best best defensive players in the NFL, was in a holdout with the Oakland Raiders over a contract dispute. He was entering the last year of his rookie deal and was looking to sign a big extension that the Raiders simply were not willing to give him. Other players around the league were getting lucrative deals and Mack felt that his big payday was due. Pace saw the discord between Mack and the Raiders and made a monster trade offer to the Raiders that they could not resist. Pace wanted Mack to be the leader of the new-look Bears and was willing to pay a high price for his services. On September 1st, a week before the kickoff of the new NFL season, the trade was officially completed between the two teams with Mack coming to the Chicago and future draft picks headed to Oakland.
Trade official, source tells ESPN:
Bears get: Khalil Mack, a 2020 second-round round pick and a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick.
Raiders get: 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick, 2019 sixth-round pick.
So Bears get back second-round pick, too
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 1, 2018
When the news first hit, the football world was in shock. Nobody could believe that the Raiders gave away a transcendent talent such as Mack so easily. However, the city of Chicago went nuts. Within hours, Mack’s new Bears jersey rose to the top five in jersey sales even before he played a snap in the actual game. #Khalil Mack and #MonstersoftheMidway were two of the top trendiest tweets in Chicago as everyone chimed in on the big news. The Bears Instagram account grew 18,000 new followers in the days that followed. The level of fan interest exponentially grew. The city had been waiting for the team to make a move like this for years and it finally came to fruition. Before the trade, the Bears odds to make the Superbowl was 100-1, but after the trade their odds grew to 40-1. It doesn’t happen very often that one of the best players in the league in his prime is traded, but the Bears got a steal. Now, there are extremely high expectations for the team this year but deservedly so. For the first time in a long time, the Bears are the hunters, not the hunted. Bears fans have been waiting for this moment: The Monsters of the Midway are finally back.