Raiders coach Jon Gruden did not set out to trade Khalil Mack.
The Raiders sent the star 27-year-old pass rusher, along with a second-round pick, to the Bears on Saturday in exchange for four future draft choices. Gruden discussed the deal for the first time with reporters one day later.
“It wasn’t my goal to trade Khalil when we got here,” Gruden said (via the NFL Network). “One of the reasons I’m here is because of him.
“We’re going to be second-guessed until the cows come home on this. I understand that.”
Mack, the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year, was looking for a new contract and had been holding out of Raiders camp. The Bears made Mack the highest paid defensive player in NFL history when they inked him to a six-year, $141 million extension after the trade.
Gruden said that contract was something the Raiders “could not do.” He also said he thinks Oakland can be competitive without Mack.
“That’s the plan,” Gruden said. “We’re going to do everything we can to win. We also have to build this football team. We’ve had one winning season in 14 years.”
Mack, a three-time Pro Bowl player, tallied 10 1/2 sacks and 61 solo tackles with the Raiders last season. He was originally selected by Oakland with the fifth pick in the 2014 draft.
Oakland opens the regular season against the Rams on Sept. 10.