A look back: Khalil Mack became a Chicago Bear five years ago originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Breaking news: The Chicago Bears and Khalil Mack have agreed to terms on a six-year deal worth $141 million. Mack becomes the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
Ring a bell?
That was five years ago Sept.1. The Bears acquired Mack via trade with the Oakland Raiders for a 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick and 2019 sixth-round. Shortly after they traded for him, they inked Mack to a new, record-setting deal.
Mack was introduced at Halas Hall five years ago, as of this writing, on Sept. 2.
The move signified a paradigm shift. The existing one, for the Bears, produced five straight seasons of .500 or worse after a 10-6 season in 2012. Two coaches and two general managers later, a new era ushered in behind newly hired head coach Matt Nagy and a flurry of competitive roster moves sparked optimism.
Mack was in good company in 2018. Allen Robinson and Kyle Fuller (his second contract) signed that offseason. And, of course, they drafted Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick one offseason prior, along with Eddie Jackson.
The Bears were poised to have one of the league’s best defenses, and they showed it. They led the league in turnovers (36) that season, recording 12 more than the team with the second-most in that category. Their defense was an offense, and it led them to a historic 12-4 record and an NFC North title.
But, Bears fans know how this movie ends.
The Bears lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card round, on account of the infamous “double-doink” kick. Then kicker Cody Parkey lined up for a 43-yard field goal, and missed, kicking the ball into the left-hand post before it struck the bottom crossbar and fell short.
That marked the beginning of the end for the Bears’ competitive window. They recorded back-to-back 8-8 seasons with a declining, aging defense and still unproductive offense.
After a 6-11 season in 2021, the Bears cleared house. They fired Nagy and Ryan Pace, then general manager. They crafted a new era behind the minds of head coach Matt Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles.
George McCaskey restructured the hierarchy, too. The general manager no longer needed to report to then-CEO/President Ted Phillips, signifying Phillips’ stepping away from the football operations side of the organization. McCaskey took over full control of the football side.
Now, Bears fans find themselves in the present day.
Poles and Eberflus used their first season with the Bears to instill culture and strip the roster down to the studs. Most notably, they traded Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn at the most recent trade deadline, finishing their dismantlement of the previous era.
This offseason, the Bears owned the No. 1 pick and the most cap space in the NFL by a landslide. They made several intriguing moves, acquiring DJ Moore, drafting Darnell Wright and signing Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards.
We’ll see how this era for the Bears fares compared to the last.
The scars run deep from the previous. But, hopefully, the new era signifies productive change.