A prominent national sportswriter says Chicago Bears rookie tight end Cole Kmet‘s play will determine the winner of the Khalil Mack trade made in 2018.

The Chicago Bears received a lot of criticism for their moves this offseason. Some of the critics went so far as to say that the team could be in the mix for the top pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

One of the moves the Bears made this year will have implications on how well they did on a move from two years ago. In 2018, just before the start of the season, general manager Ryan Pace pulled the trigger on a deal that probably turned the season around for Chicago. He acquired All-World linebacker Khalil Mack.

Now that all the picks are made, let’s take a look at who got what. The Bears traded their 2019 first and sixth-round picks, and their 2020 first and third-round picks to the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders in exchange for Mack and Oakland’s 2020 second and seventh-round picks.

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In addition to Mack, the Bears received tight end Cole Kmet and offensive lineman Arlington Hambright.

The Raiders got running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Foster Moreau, cornerback Damon Arnett, and wide receiver Bryan Edwards.

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Some people feel the Raiders are winning the deal so far because of Mack’s down season (down only because he’s Khalil Mack). Others, however, feel the Bears still own an advantage. Yes, Mack wasn’t Mack-like in 2019, but he dealt with a lot of negatives. He dealt with an injury and with double and triple teams because Akiem Hicks was missing due to injury and Leonard Floyd was just missing. Keep in mind, however, that he still has 21 sacks in 30 games played for the Bears. With a healthy Hicks and an All-Pro in Robert Quinn, Mack should turn those hurries into sacks in 2020.

One person who feels the Bears are close to winning the deal is Pro Football Talk’s Peter King, a noted NFL expert. This is what he said about the trade:

Mack played hurt last year; his 21 sacks in 30 Chicago games would have been higher if he’d been healthy. He’s still the best player in this deal. If Kmet’s a good NFL tight end, the win here will go to Chicago.

King did say that it could be closer if Jacobs has an excellent career. If he has a Hall of Fame career then it could be a push. That is a big if, however, since his rookie season didn’t show any evidence of that.

If Kmet becomes a big red zone target and a dependable starter, then the Chicago Bears do get the better end of the trade. Having a transcendent pass rusher trumps a great running back. If that running back ends up being just good, then the nod does go Chicago’s way. If Kmet ends up being a Pro Bowl tight end, though, the case is definitely closed.

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