Emma: Bears’ trade of Khalil Mack signals start of rebuild in Chicago


(670 The Score) Since being hired in late January, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles has thoroughly analyzed the roster he inherited. What he saw was a roster that was commensurate with the team’s 6-11 record last season.

Poles knows the Bears aren’t close to contending for a Super Bowl championship – and that they aren’t a legitimate threat to win the NFC North in 2022. So Thursday afternoon, he made a move that was necessary.

The Bears have agreed to a deal to trade six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chargers, multiple sources said. In return, Chicago will receive a 2022 second-round pick and 2023 sixth-round pick from Los Angeles.

Four years after Mack’s arrival in Chicago signaled the Bears’ urgency to win, his departure makes it clear that this is a team in transition. The Bears are rebuilding.

Poles’ hiring marked the beginning of necessary changes at Halas Hall after the team bottomed out under the guidance of former general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy. Chicago invested heavily in the likes of Mack, edge rusher Robert Quinn and safety Eddie Jackson but failed to address other key needs on an ailing, aging roster.

The Bears’ acquisition of Mack in 2018 was made in conjunction with young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky being on his rookie contract. The Bears banked on Trubisky developing into a star, but those plans crumbled amid consecutive 8-8 regular seasons in 2019 and 2020 before another dip in 2021.

Mack, 31, carried a $30.15-million cap hit for the Bears in 2022 and was under contract for three more seasons. His exit gives Poles more flexibility in rebuilding the roster, with about $6 million more in cap space cleared for the Bears in 2022 and much more beyond that.

Mack arrived at Halas Hall just a week before the 2018 season opener and worked long hours with his outside linebackers coach to get acclimated with the team. That coach was Brandon Staley, now the Chargers’ head coach who will welcome in Mack as a major piece to his championship aspirations in Los Angeles.

Back in Chicago, Poles is taking charge of the Bears as they go in a different direction. It’s time for a rebuild.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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