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Conflicting Khalil Mack trade rumors show sad state of sports journalism

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

***An apology has been issued for this article. Read that here***

The Khalil Mack holdout has been going on for months now. Mack did not report to mandatory minicamp, voluntary minicamp, OTAs, training camp, any preseason games or the Raiders 4th of July barbecue. However, contracts take time, especially for someone like Mack who is arguably the best defensive player in football and certainly the best player in the AFC West.

But for the last few weeks we’ve heard countless rumors about Khalil Mack being traded. Where did they come from? Do they have any validity?

Let’s start with Ground Zero.

There had been a few rumblings, mostly from New York area football blogs, that the Jets were looking to add an edge rusher, namely Khalil Mack. And then there was this article from Bleacher Report that said,

“The odds of such a trade were zero percent a few months back, but now they are 20 to 30 percent and increasing every day, one NFC team executive said.

“There’s a feeling the Raiders are open for business when it comes to Mack,” the exec said.”

The fact that this comes from the den of scum and villainy known as Bleacher Report should tell you all you need to know about its validity, not to mention the fact that the story is “an unnamed exec from an unnamed team has a feeling”. I had a feeling once, but it turned out I had too many burritos.

And there was this:

Okay first of all, who the fuck is Eric Galko? Nobody had ever heard of him or his little scouting company before this tweet made the rounds, but it provides scouting services and consulting. They’re not a news outlet. This was really where things started to get crazy.

Every football blog in existence then went off the deep end speculating about how their team could get Khalil Mack. Possible suitors, if you believe that there are any, include the Packers, Bears, Jets, Bills, Pottsville Maroons, New York Yankees and CSKA Moscow.

Three days ago, Yahoo! Sports came out with this article about the Mack trade saga. It includes the following passage:

“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Raiders haven’t slammed the door on the possibility of trading the 2016 defensive player of the year. That said, the Raiders are being coy with the teams that have inquired.

“Recent reports have indicated as many as a dozen teams kicking tires on a possible trade. Four teams, we’re told, are exploring the possibility very seriously.”

And much of this came after an August 21 report from Sports Illustrated that quoted Albert Breer, saying:

“If the Oakland Raiders are going to ship their best player out of town, it’s not going to happen in the near future. While there were rumblings that a Khalil Mack trade could be a potential option for the Raiders, those opinions have quickly been shot down as of late.”

Most recently, MMQB’s Albert Breer broke down the idea of a Mack trade and did so as bluntly as possible. According to Breer, inquiries about acquiring the 2016 Defensive Player of the year “have been quickly met with a no.”

Breer’s insight on the situation goes beyond just the fact that the Raiders aren’t interested in moving Mack currently, though. He also lays out an interesting scenario for any potential suitor, which includes not only giving up a massive amount to acquire him but then the huge contract a team would have to lay out immediately after.

“That club trading for him would have to give up not just premium draft capital, but also a market-busting contract for the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year.

“There’s not much of a chance that another team would give up pick-wise what it would take to get Mack without some sort of assurance that he’d be doing a long-term deal in his new home. And you can raise the fact that the franchise tag would be an option for that team, but that assumes Mack would report to a new home without a new deal, which seems unlikely.

“Is there a team out there willing to give up a first-round pick (and maybe another pick), plus more than $20 million per year, with $60 million or so fully guaranteed, to get Mack? Maybe there is. He’s an incredible player, but that’s a hefty price for anyone who doesn’t play quarterback.”

And Ian Rappaport went on the Rich Eisen Show this week and made it very clear the Raiders are not interested in trading away Mack.

Also this week, this little foray into seeing how the sausage is made in the wild, wacky world of sports journalism officially became a joke:

You see folks, ever since you, the consumer, stopped actually paying for sports journalism, it has become something completely degenerate and foul. Modern sports (and regular) journalism is ad-based, which means the more people who click on your page, the more money you make. The ad doesn’t care if what you wrote is true or not, it only wants more readers. And the best way to get readers is to tell them what their cognitive bias wants to read about. Happy lies sell far better than inconvenient truths. It’s known as clickbait, and I will have none of it.

The bottom line here is that there’s been a ton of speculation, none of which is based on any sort of verifiable truth or reasonable conclusions from any evidence whatsoever, that teams are lining up to trade for Khalil Mack. There is no evidence of any kind from any source that the Raiders are interested in any way in trading Mack, and in fact trading for him and signing him to the contract he deserves would be so cost-prohibitive that there are few teams for whom such a move makes sense. But that doesn’t stop journalists with questionable motives from spreading a false narrative.

UPDATE: In the hours since this article was posted, an article went up on NFL.com which completely encapsulates the issues the article speaks about.

The headline reads, “Raiders want at least two first-round picks for Mack”.

The actual story is... about something else. Seriously, read the headline and then read the actual story. And consider the fact that many people will just read the headline and not the story, and draw conclusions from that.