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Past trades for ‘elite’ pass rushers support the Packers’ pursuit of Khalil Mack

A “what you see is what you get” theme has proven true in relatively recent trades involving pass rushers and high-end draft picks.

Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Whether the Green Bay Packers will make a real push for disgruntled Oakland pass rusher Khalil Mack is far from certain. One thing is: history of success is on the pursuer’s side.

Although Silver and Black Pride recently discussed the difficulties of trading for a player like Mack and the unlikeliness of a deal taking place, it certainly makes some sense for the Packers. APC’s Peter Bukowski outlined a precedent when it comes to trading a top NFL talent with specific salary ramifications for the Packers earlier this month. And while the Mack drama had not really begun prior to my article about players that could put Green Bay over the top in 2018, the All-Pro matches that criteria in the prime of his career at age 27.

Even more, elite pass rusher trades have been beneficial to the team that takes the risky plunge. The St. Louis Rams’ trade of Kevin Carter to the Tennessee Titans in 2001 was among one of the first trades over the past 20 years involving an upper-echelon pass rusher. Carter only put together 23.5 sacks over four seasons with the Titans after being shopped for the 29th pick of the first round (he averaged 13 sacks his final three seasons in St. Louis), and represents the lower end of productivity after similar trades.

Here are three of the latest deals involving pass rushers that have fared well for the buyer.

John Abraham - 2006

Like Carter, Abraham was traded from the New York Jets to Atlanta for the 29th overall pick. After six seasons in New York in which he eclipsed 10 sacks three times, Abraham went on to post four such seasons and three Pro Bowl appearances during his seven-year Falcons career. Eerily similar to Mack, Abraham was both 27 years old at the time and coming off a 10.5 sack season. Although he had just a four-sack first season with Atlanta, Abraham gave the defense a major lift over subsequent seasons.

Jared Allen - 2008

The Minnesota Vikings paid a steep price when they sent a first round pick, two third-rounders, and a swap of sixth round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs for Allen. With 43 sacks over four season with the Chiefs, including a 15.5 sack performance leading up to the trade, Allen was a hot commodity at age 26. Fortunately for the Vikings, Allen rewarded them with 14.5 sacks in each of his first two seasons. And during a six-year stay in Minnesota, he never tallied less than 11 sacks. Allen dropped the quarterback a career-high 22 times in 2011 and made four Pro Bowl appearances with the Vikings.

Chandler Jones - 2016

In a unique trade, the New England Patriots swapped Jones with the Arizona Cardinals for former first round guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick. After a career-high 12.5 sack season with the Patriots, Jones commanded a first-round value despite just two 10-plus sack seasons to his credit. However, Jones has certainly been a find for the Cardinals, instantly aiding their pass rush with 11 sacks in 2016 in addition to a breakout 17 sacks last season. Jones looks like to be a key cog of the Arizona defense for many seasons to come.

With 40.5 sacks over his first four years in the NFL, Mack is right on pace, if not ahead of, the players listed above. He would figure to attract a first-round pick and more in an approved trade as a young, ultra-productive pass rusher. Re-visiting the aforementioned trades, there were several win-win scenarios that make a trade somewhat appealing for the Raiders as well as the Packers.

There is risk in entering contract negotiations with Mack once acquired, including a hefty long-term investment. But history shows Green Bay can reasonably expect — if injury free — a sustained high-level of play from Mack for the foreseeable future.