If the Jets Want to Win, They Need Khalil Mack

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack is in the prime of his career – and he’s a training camp holdout. He wants to be the top paid DE in the NFL, which is the title currently being held by Jacksonville DE Calais Campbell. Rumors are that Mack is willing to hold out through training camp and neither he nor head coach Jon Gruden are on speaking terms.

Is Khalil Mack a good fit for the Jets? (Photo Credit: USA Today)

So, if the Raiders are willing to part ways with Khalil Mack and they are looking for a trade partner, could one of those partners be the New York Jets?

One of the biggest problems for the Jets has been a lack of a pass rush. The team sack total has been on the decline since 2014, as evidenced in the numbers below:

2014: 45 sacks (league rank: 10th)
2015: 39 sacks (league rank: 18th)
2016: 27 sacks (league rank: 29th)
2017: 28 sacks (league rank: 28th)

The Jets have been slowly rebuilding their defense from the outside. It is being modeled after head coach Todd Bowles’ philosophy of having a strong secondary supplemented by a fierce pass rush. The secondary has the potential to be one of the best units in the league this season with S Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye in their respective second seasons joined by CB Maurice Claiborne and free agent acquisition Trumaine Johnson. The corps of linebacker has also been rebuilt with the free agency acquisitions of Avery Williamson and Kevin Pierre-Louis, which should help take a load off of Darron Lee. Now that the secondary and linebackers have been taken care of, it’s time to give some help to the defensive line.

The Jets need a premier edge rusher, something they have lacked in recent seasons. Khalil Mack, along with fellow DE Leonard Williams, could be the edge combination that they’re looking for. Williams was drafted in 2016 to be the Jets’ edge rusher of the future. He, Mo Wilkerson, and Sheldon Richardson were supposed to the line to bring the defensive line back to prominence. The latter two are gone, leaving Williams without an effective edge rusher. The Jets’ Base 3-4 defense would have Mack on the left side of the line with Williams on the right.

All of that being said, what would the Jets need to give up in return? Spoiler alert: they will have to pay at a premium.

Mack is a free agent after this season and the Raiders would be wise not to let him walk away empty handed. A package containing a plethora of draft picks and a current position player might be the Raiders’ asking price as they make their way to Las Vegas in 2020. If Mack were to have a monstrous season and the Jets make some magic with their salary cap, the Jets can make him a very wealthy man entering 2019.

Would the Jets be willing to mortgage their future again for a player like Khalil Mack? Undoubtedly; but for a team that has a need on defense and a restless fanbase looking for the team to be a contender, the risk may be worth the reward.

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