Derek Carr: Khalil Mack trade a downer but shock is gone

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Monday, September 3, 2018

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While Derek Carr did not expect Khalil Mack to be traded, the Oakland Raiders quarterback said the team is already over the shock of the two-time first-team All-Pro edge rusher and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year being traded to the Chicago Bears.

"It isn't what anybody wanted -- I think that's clear," Carr said Monday, two days after the Raiders packaged Mack, who had been holding out all offseason, a second-round draft pick in 2020 and a 2020 conditional fifth-rounder to Chicago for the Bears' first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, a sixth-rounder in 2019 and a third-rounder in 2020.

"But it is what it is -- it's part of the business," Carr added. "It's one of those sucky things that happen. The hardest part for me is, obviously, you lose a good football player, but he's my brother, man. He's one of my best friends. I think the hardest part is, I don't get to see my friend every day."

Carr and Mack came to Oakland in the 2014 draft, with general manager Reggie McKenzie using the No. 5 overall pick on Mack and the fourth selection of the second round on Carr.

The two had goals of changing the losing culture in Oakland, which had not had a winning season since 2002, and winning games while making the Raiders a desirable destination for free agents.

"And I feel like we did that," Carr said.

In 2014, their respective NFL careers got off to an 0-10 start. Two years later, the Raiders went 12-4 with a postseason appearance as Carr, despite missing the season finale and playoff loss at Houston with a broken right leg, finished tied for third in NFL MVP voting and Mack was feted as the league's best defensive player.

Carr said he and Mack had "planned the next 10, 15 years of our life" going forward.

"We both have kind of the same goals; I just don't want him to win the Super Bowl," Carr said with an uneasy laugh.

"I'm still going to dunk on him when he comes to my house in the offseason. He can expect that."

Carr again laughed nervously.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden, whose roster overhaul has 31 players on the 53-man roster who did not appear on Oakland's active roster last season, acknowledged Sunday that Carr's massive five-year, $125 million contract extension, signed in June 2017, was a hindrance for Oakland to re-sign Mack. Especially after the defensive player market was reset by Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald getting a six-year, $135 million contract with $87 million guaranteed on Friday.

The Bears then inked Mack to a record six-year, $141 million deal with $90 million guaranteed after acquiring him, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. Gruden said the Raiders' offer to Mack, made back at the start of the league year in March, did not come close.

The Raiders, meanwhile, had given extensions to Carr, right guard Gabe Jackson (five years, $56 million) and defensive tackle Justin "Jelly" Ellis (three years, $15 million) in the past year.

"That's what makes it hard, because we all knew, me, Gabe, Khalil, Jelly, we all saw it coming," Carr said. "It's one of those things that you just hope it can work out. We all did our best, I'll say it that way ... it just didn't work out that way. Honestly, it hurts because we did, we tried, and we were always open."

Carr added that the shock has worn off "because we're back to work."

"I think, obviously, we had the day off that day and so that made it harder because I'm just sitting there thinking about it all day. Whereas now, I've got a job to do. Once we showed up and got to work, Coach addressed it with the team, said what he said, invited anyone who needed to talk to him, open door. He understood that a lot of us were close with him," Carr said.

"It didn't go away, because he's your buddy, but at the same time it went away because we have a game to get ready for."

Still, Carr said he was initially worried about the effect of Mack being traded on the Raiders' locker room.

But no more. Not with teammates calling to reassure the quarterback.

"It's one of those situations that sucks -- we lost our friend, we lost our brother, but we have games to win, we've got a job to do," Carr said he was told.

"And I think that's the mark of Mr. McKenzie and Coach Gruden bringing in the right kind of people ... handle it like men. You don't have to like it or agree with it, but we're paid to win games."