In one of the busiest NFL weekends of the year, one story stood above all others. In a shocking move, the Oakland Raiders dealt away their best defender, LB Khalil Mack, to the Chicago Bears. Mack had been holding out in hopes of a new contract as he prepared to enter his fourth-season in the league. Earlier last week, reports surfaced suggesting the Raiders were telling teams they wanted a pair of first-round picks in exchange for their star, who is just 27-years-old.
With the regular season kickoff looming, the Raiders seemingly panicked, accepting a deal that brought them first-rounders in 2019 and 2020, along with a 2020 third round pick and 2019 sixth-rounder. In exchange, they parted with second and fifth-round picks in 2020, along with their disgruntled star, Mack. The Bears wasted little time in giving Mack the new contract he desired, agreeing to terms on a record-breaking six-year, $141 million deal, making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.
While it may seem like old news now, the record contract was previously set just the day before the Mack trade when the Rams finally agreed to terms with their own holdout defender, DT Aaron Donald, who signed a six-year, $135 million pact.
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Back to the Bears, the acquisition of Mack suddenly gives Chicago one of the top linebacking duos as he joins first-round rookie Roquan Smith. Meanwhile, the Raiders clearly are not on the same page as HC Jon Gruden and GM Reggie McKenzie continue to release contradicting statements following the weekend’s events. It has been reported that the Raiders and owner Mark Davis did not have the cash necessary to pay Mack the new deal he desired.
McKinnon’s Season Over
Former Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon has been one of the top stories of the entire offseason. After signing with the 49ers as a free agent, his fantasy stock quickly soared, thanks to being paired with RB-friendly Kyle Shanahan and landing a job as the presumed starter. With fantasy owners envisioning a Devonta Freeman like breakout performance, McKinnon’s ADP climbed all the way to the second-round. Early in training camp, McKinnon suffered an injury scare which required an MRI, but was revealed to be “just a muscle strain.” McKinnon sat out the majority of practices and all preseason games after suffering the injury but had started to return to practice over the last few days. During Saturday’s workout, McKinnon suffered a non-contact knee injury, which was later diagnosed to be a torn ACL, ending his season.
This is a major blow to the Niners offense, as well as fantasy teams that had been pinning their hopes on McKinnon living up to the hype we’ve heard about all offseason. San Francisco will now turn to some combination of veteran RB Alfred Morris and second-year RB Matt Breida, who has also missed time with an injury. Breida is set to return and will play a heavy role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Morris enjoyed the best seasons of his six-year career playing under Shanahan when both were with the Washington Redskins. Clearly, both Morris and Breida have seen a major spike in fantasy value as a result of the injury and increased opportunity.
In an effort to adjust their roster down to 53 players, the 49ers parted ways with RBs Joe Williams and Jeremy McNichols and now with the loss of McKinnon, the team could look to bring back one of these two, or simply sign another player off the street.
Raiders’ Baffling Moves
The Mack trade didn’t mark the end of the Raiders’ questionable decisions. Oakland sent the Buffalo Bills a future fifth-round pick in exchange for backup QB A.J. McCarron, who has played terribly all preseason. After quickly falling behind rookie QB Josh Allen and sophomore QB Nathan Peterman, the writing was on the wall that McCarron was done in Buffalo when he played the entire preseason finale. His possible impending release didn’t stop the Raiders from sending a future pick to acquire him. The team then released both backup QBs Connor Cook and E.J. Manuel, leaving McCarron to be the top backup for starter Derek Carr.
They followed that up by waiving talented but troubled WR Martavis Bryant. Let’s be honest, with Bryant’s off-field history and all of the negative reports we’ve heard since he arrived in Oakland, this was probably the right decision. The troubling aspect was that the team actually acquired Bryant in the first place, sending a third-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers on draft weekend. Bryant went unclaimed through waivers and is now free to sign. He is also reportedly facing a league suspension. There is a chance this signals the end of Bryant’s once-promising career.
The Chargers agreed to terms with veteran TE Antonio Gates. The move was a long-time coming, considering starting TE Hunter Henry tore his ACL prior to training camp. … The Ravens announced that not only did QB Robert Griffin III make their roster but that he would begin as their top backup. Rookie QB Lamar Jackson will begin his career as the third quarterback and most likely a weekly inactive. … Eagles HC Doug Pederson announced that RB Jay Ajayi would be ready for Week One. Ajayi has missed time with a lower body injury…The news wasn’t so good for Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who has yet to be cleared for contact. This means it will be Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles starting at quarterback when the Eagles and Falcons kick off the season this Thursday night. … Colts RB Marlon Mack’s status for Week One is unknown, but a Colts beat writer called rookie RB Jordan Wilkins the “frontrunner” to start if Mack can’t play. … CB Terence Newman announced his retirement from the NFL after 15 seasons. Newman finished his career with the Vikings and will now join the Minnesota coaching staff…Giants TE Evan Engram (concussion) is expected to play in Week One…Cowboys TE Rico Gathers was arrested Friday night on a charge of drug possession, but somehow still made the Dallas 53-man roster. … Buccaneers GM Jason Licht refused to commit to QB Jameis Winston as the team’s starter when he returns from a three-game suspension. This is likely just “coach speak” but can’t be considered a good sign for Winston’s long-term status with the Bucs.
The Ravens cut former first-round WR Breshad Perriman, who is scheduled to work out for the Jets soon…Buffalo traded for former first-round WR Corey Coleman at the beginning of training camp, but his Bills career ends now. The team cut Coleman, who subsequently cleared waivers. He’s now free to sign with any team. … The Cowboys surprisingly released K Dan Bailey, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. He’s scheduled to work out for the Jets and won’t be on the market for long. … The Jets have been busy as they also signed RB De’Angelo Henderson to the practice squad after he was released by the Broncos. Denver also dumped former third-rounder WR Carlos Henderson. … QB Chad Kelly easily outplayed QB Paxton Lynch in the battle to be Denver’s top backup and it ultimately cost Lynch his job. He was waived…RB Ameer Abdullah had been the center of much speculation, but he did make the Lions 53-man roster, which is probably bad news for his fantasy value. … The Packers drafted a trio of rookie receivers and then brought in former Bengals practice squad WR Jake Kumerow and each one played well during camp. The Pack kept all four, along with veteran WR Randall Cobb, who had been reportedly on the trade block. There could be more moves to come with this WR corps. … The Chargers waived backup QB Cardale Jones, meaning QB Geno Smith is the top backup to veteran starter Philip Rivers. … Miami waived WR Leonte Carroo, who cleared waivers and was later signed back to the Dolphins practice squad. … Minnesota released veteran WR Kendall Wright, who led the Bears in multiple receiving categories a year ago. He will find work. … The Patriots final running back spot was won by Jeremy Hill, which led to the release of RB Mike Gillislee. He wasn’t available for long though as he was quickly signed to a one-year deal by the Saints, who are looking to fill the depth chart as veteran RB Mark Ingram serves his four-game suspension. … The Saints surprisingly waived RB Jonathan Williams, who had played well during the preseason. He later signed on as part of the team’s practice squad. … The Giants surprised everyone by dumping backup QB Davis Webb, keeping rookie QB Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney. … The Patriots needed some help at wideout after retaining just three active receivers on their initial roster. The claimed former Jets WR Chad Hansen and former Seahawks WR Amara Darboh. Both players were waived the previous day and both are now interesting stashes in deep leagues. … The Titans gave up on rookie QB Luke Falk, who was claimed by the Miami Dolphins. … The Steelers backup QB battle has been won by rookie Mason Rudolph after the team parted ways with veteran QB Landry Jones…The Jets signed former Chiefs RB Charcandrick West just days ago, but he didn’t last long with the team.
The Texans placed RB D’Onta Foreman (Achilles) and on the reserve/PUP list, which will keep him out of action for the first six games of the season. We should find out just how many touches RB Lamar Miller can handle. Denver placed rookie TE Troy Fumagalli on the injured reserve list. He’d been dealing with a sports hernia and a thigh injury. … The Broncos also placed S Su’a Cravens (knee) on the IR list… Undrafted rookie RB Chris Warren led the league in preseason rushing yards, but a knee injury has landed him on the injured reserve list. This may just be a way for the Raiders to stash him for a year and keep the other four backs on their roster. … The Panthers suffered a tough loss as LT Matt Kalil was placed on the injured reserve with a knee issue. He could be a candidate to return to the field, but not until after the first eight games of the season. … Patriots rookie RB Sony Michel participated in portions on practice, though most still expect him to miss Week One. … The Bears placed TE Adam Shaheen (foot/ankle) on the IR list, but could return later in the season. … The Chargers surprised us by placing TE Hunter Henry (ACL) not on the season-ending injured reserve, but on the reserve/PUP list instead. This opens the door for Henry to return late in the season. … Seattle TE Ed Dickson (quad) was placed on the reserve/PUP list, keeping him off the field for at least the first six games. TE Nick Vannett should see most of the action early in the season. … The Saints placed RB Shane Vereen on the IR list. … The Titans activated RT Jack Conklin (ACL) from the active/PUP list. Conklin has yet to practice, but this is a sign he should return sometime within the first six weeks of the season.
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