Phillips relayed the latest message from general manager Ryan Pace. To pull it off, Phillips informed McCaskey that the Bears would have to part with first-round picks. McCaskey had no hesitation in that, but another subplot remained. The Bears would then have to secure Mack for the long term, and it would take a record contract to do so.
"(Phillips) said, 'This is also going to blow the committed cash budget,'" McCaskey said. "I said, 'Let's go get him.'"
McCaskey understood what Mack could mean to the franchise.
"Ryan said, when you have an opportunity to get a premier player in his prime at a premier position in the league, you've got to take advantage of that," McCaskey said on the McNeil & Parkins Show on Thursday afternoon.
What followed in turn was the Bears enjoying a worst-to-first turnaround, with their 12-4 record securing an NFC North crown in Matt Nagy's first season as head coach. Chicago played in its first postseason game in eight years and moved past a difficult stretch in franchise history.
In the view of McCaskey, the impact of Mack had plenty to do with that. He had 12.5 sacks in 14 games and received All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Though Mack is sitting out the Pro Bowl this Sunday, seven other Bears are in line to play.
"Khalil transformed the team, not just the defense," McCaskey said. "Ryan said it very well: When your best players are the hardest workers, that's a good thing.
"Like Ryan said, you got a chance to get a player like that, you got to seize the moment."