Halas Intrigue Bears Report: The end of the Khalil Mack era

Halas Intrigue Bears Report
Dealing Khalil Mack to the Chargers is likely only the first move as new Bears general manager Ryan Poles begins remaking the team. Read the latest coverage and analysis below.

1. It's not you, it's us
As it turned out, the Khalil Mack era – which came to an end Thursday when the Bears agreed to trade him to the Chargers – was no more successful than the Jay Cutler era or the Brandon Marshall era in the pantheon of Bears bold trade acquisitions. 
One winning season out of four. Two playoff berths. No postseason victories. The general manager who traded two first-round draft picks to the Raiders to acquire him in 2018 was just fired — just as Jerry Angelo was fired three years after acquiring Cutler and Phil Emery was fired three years after trading for Marshall. 
But it was still a deal worth making, one that Ryan Pace surely doesn’t regret and one the Bears would do all over again. Even more than the Cutler and Marshall acquisitions, the disappointment of the Mack era was a Bears problem more than a Mack problem. 
Khalil Mack era — smart investment yields a disappointing return
2. Tear it down, build it up
Last week, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles bemoaned the lack of draft picks left him by predecessor Ryan Pace.
“That’s just the hand we were dealt,” he said. “And we’ll be open-minded on how we can create more picks.”
Thursday, he certainly was open-minded, agreeing to trade Khalil Mack to the Chargers for a second-round draft pick next month and a sixth-round pick next year.
Poles trading a sure-fire Pro Football Hall of Famer in his first major Bears transaction is a bold, refreshingly cold-hearted move, considering the Bears made Mack the richest defensive player in history when they traded for him four years ago.
It’s also a smart way for the 36-year-old Poles to begin reshaping his team. There will be more trades, too. The Bears are eyeing 2023 or later — and not 2022 — to begin competing at the highest level. 
This is a rebuild. The Bears were always in need of one — and it became more logical the second quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreed to return to the Packers last week. 
The Bears figure to look for free agents next week that will allow quarterback Justin Fields to operate within a functional offense. Otherwise, improving the team’s long-term roster outlook will be prioritized over bettering last season’s 6-11 record. The Bears have their first-round pick next year — unlike this season, they will be able to reap the draft rewards of a bad season.
The Bears’ roster, as it stands now, is devoid of elite players. Poles knows that.
Ryan Poles started the Bears’ rebuild when he agreed to move Khalil Mack
3. Clearing the decks
Khalil Mack’s move to Los Angeles will reunite him with Brandon Staley, the Chargers head coach and former Bears assistant who was Mack’s position coach when they traded for him on the eve of the 2018 season.
Mack got off to an electric start last season before hurting his foot in Week 3 against the Browns. The injury never improved and he eventually opted for surgery, finishing the season with six sacks in seven games. It was the first time since his rookie season that Mack did not make the Pro Bowl.
Mack was due to have a $30.15 million cap charge in 2022. Trading him means the Bears have to eat $24 million in dead cap — the fourth-most for any player and the most ever for someone who doesn’t play quarterback. The Bears are free and clear after 2022, though — when they figure to be more competitive than they will be this upcoming season anyway.
Moving Mack appears to be a concession from Poles that the Bears need an infusion of draft picks and young players to compete, long-term, against Aaron Rodgers — and others — in the NFC North.
Bears agree to trade Khalil Mack to Chargers
4. In other news
5. From the podcast
Patrick Finley and Mark Potash break down the pending trade of Khalil Mack to the Chargers, and debate what it means for the future of the Bears. LISTEN HERE.
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