Failure to keep Khalil Mack falls on Jon Gruden

Jon Gruden made his point, and all it cost was the final two years of Raider football in Oakland.

In the short term, anyway. The damage may be far worse down the road.

His decision to reportedly trade defensive stalwart Khalil Mack at the height of his powers to the Chicago Bears for a return of two first-round draft choices made it clear that his philosophies about roster construction and salary cap distribution are pre-eminent and do not include dissent or compromise. Mack was his best defensive player, perhaps his best player period, and yet Gruden made a minimal effort to engage with him, let alone negotiate.

This was my-way-or-the-highway brinksmanship by Gruden, who old-schooled the hell out of this seemingly simple problem by being the general manager of 1980 rather than 2020. He made this team worse, and probably next year’s as well, all to prove a point that was never actually being challenged – he intends to operate as an autocrat, along the lines of the autocrat he himself couldn’t get along with back in the day, Al Davis.

That comparison probably will stick in Gruden’s craw some day, but for now he acted exactly as Davis would in his worst times. Mack was the most important of Raiders, and the only thing he insisted upon in return was to be

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