Vindication For The Raiders — MIT Analysts Say Trading Khalil Mack Was Best Move In All Of Sports Last Year

Khalil Mack after an NFL game.
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The Oakland Raiders were widely criticized for trading away a generational talent in Khalil Mack last year, but now the Silver and Black have a bit of vindication from the experts at MIT.

An analytics group from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT found that the trade was the single best move in all of sports last year, Pro Football Talk noted. The Raiders received the Best Transaction award from the group, which apparently finds more value in a complete rebuild than attempts to make small changes to an otherwise bad team.

As the report noted, the analysts also believed that the return for Khalil Mack was also pivotal for a team looking to fully rebuild a roster.

“Analytics also says there’s a lot of value in draft picks, and the Raiders got a big haul of draft picks in the deal, with two first-round picks, a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick going to the Raiders in exchange for Mack and a second-round pick.” the report noted.

And it doesn’t even matter if the Raiders happen to whiff on all of the new draft picks they got from the trade. The analysis said the drafting itself would be graded separately from the trade.

Across all sports, a greater focus on analytics has led to new strategies — from more frequent shifting in baseball infields to “load days” that give more rest to NBA players, somewhat replacing the idea of completely tearing down a roster to start from scratch. Teams across all sports have adopted the approach — some with great success. The Raiders now hope to be the next successful team to do so, starting with the Mack trade.

Since trading Khalil Mack, the Oakland Raiders have already made some big moves to rebuild in order to contend in the competitive AFC West. The team also pulled off the biggest trade of the offseason in landing Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and have also taken a flyer on oft-troubled linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was just cut by the Cincinnati Bengals.

“We’re on the same team,” Burfict said, via ESPN. “It’s one goal. It’s all positive, man. He’s a great player… I’m going to approach him just like I do all my other teammates… There’s nothing negative here. We’re on the same team. We’re trying to win a championship here.”

It’s not clear yet how the Burfict signing will rank among all sports transactions for 2019.