The Chargers watched earlier this week as their AFC West rival Broncos made a pre-free agency splash, reportedly agreeing to acquire Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade. On Thursday, Los Angeles countered with a move of its own, nearing the completion of a deal for star Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack, according to CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora. The Chargers will surrender a 2022 second-round draft pick and 2023 sixth-rounder to Chicago as part of the proposed swap.
L.A. was expected to be in the market for pass-rushing help opposite four-time Pro Bowler Joey Bosa, and Mack gives them one of the most accomplished edge defenders in the game. The latter, a four-time All-Pro and former Defensive Player of the Year, must pass a physical and likely rework the remainder of his contract before his trade to the Chargers can be finalized, per NFL Media. No deals can be made official until the start of the league year, on March 16.
The 31-year-old Mack, a former No. 5 overall pick of the Raiders, hasn’t posted gaudy sack totals in recent years, going three straight seasons without double digits and finishing 2021 with just six, the second-lowest mark of his career. But he was also limited to just seven games due to foot surgery. Otherwise, the imposing veteran has been one of the NFL’s steadiest pass rushers, logging six straight Pro Bowl nods from 2015-2020 and going seven straight years with more than a dozen QB hits. He posted a career-high 15 sacks with the Raiders in 2015 and logged 12.5 in his Bears debut three years later, when Chicago acquired him as part of a lucrative swap of picks, including two first-rounders.
Mack, who played under current Chargers coach Brandon Staley in Chicago from 2017-2018, is under contract through the 2024 season. He is due $30.2 million in 2022, the second-largest cap hit among all edge rushers, behind only the Steelers‘ T.J. Watt, although that figure is likely to drop as a result of negotiations with his new team, the Chargers.
SportsLine’s Stephen Oh projects the Chargers to get a big boost in 2022 odds — from regular-season wins to Super Bowl chances — just from Mack’s addition off the edge. He has L.A.’s win total jumping from 8.8 to 9.5 — a 0.7-win difference — and the team’s playoff chances jumping by 12.9% as a result of the trade.
“It’s rare for non-QBs, even stars, to have more than a 0.5-win impact,” Oh says, “but the combination of Mack and Bosa should be pretty dominant assuming both stay healthy.”