A lot of questions surround the Oakland Raiders with regard to their star defensive end, Khalil Mack. He reportedly hasn’t communicated with new head coach Jon Gruden, and he is in day 10 of a holdout with no clear end in sight. This is disconcerting for fans of the Raiders, since Mack is easily the best player on their defense.
Now rumors have leaked out that Mack may be on the trading block. So it stands to reason that we ask the question: Shouldn’t Chris Ballard be getting on the phone with Jon Gruden to find out what it would cost to make Khalil Mack a Colt?
The Colts pass rush over the past several years has been virtually nonexistent. Chris Ballard has spent a lot of resources in this offseason bringing in depth and young talent on the defensive line. In fact, it might even be able to be considered a strength of the team. However, so much is still unproven that the addition of a 3-time pro bowl player with 36.5 sacks to his name over the last 3 seasons would definitely change the look of this defense in an undeniable way.
The benefits are obvious. The Colts would acquire one of the best young pass rushers in the game right now, squarely in his prime. At 27, Mack has been healthy and started in every game since being drafted as a 5th overall pick. The question that would determine the viability of such a trade is over what it would cost to get him.
That price tag would likely be high. Players like Khalil Mack don’t reach free agency. Teams simply don’t let them walk. They are hard to replace and teams can spend a lot of draft capital trying to find a guy who can do the job. Short of quarterback, there may not be a more important role on a team, and that means they come at a high price.
The Raiders would almost certainly want a first round pick in exchange for Mack. Even that might not be enough, with the likelihood that a player or players would need to be packaged into the trade to make it work. Then there is the fact that any trade would be contingent upon being able to work out a deal with Mack for a long-term contract. Spotrac values him at more than $18M per year, which would make him the 2nd highest paid player on the Colts’ roster.
That requires a really high comfort level with the type of guy you’re bringing in. Giving out that kind of money to a player would be a first for Chris Ballard, and while it would definitely make the team more talented, he is very particular about the kind of guys he brings into the locker room as he tries to build a particular kind of culture.
If I were Chris Ballard, I would float an offer of the Colts’ 2019 first round pick and John Simon. Simon is the kind of player who Gruden would certainly like, and depending on how the rookies develop, might struggle to be more than depth for the Colts this season anyway. There is no telling if the Raiders would view this as enough, they might want more than one first round pick, but that should be about the ceiling on offers.
With an additional 2nd round pick coming from the Jets trade, and the very real possibility that Brissett will be dealt after the season for another, the Colts might be comfortable missing out on that first round pick next year if it means locking up a top-level pass rusher for the next several years.
What do you think?