Head Coach Jon Gruden: "We made a decision and we're going to stand by it"

The Oakland Raiders aren't going to look back, that much we learned Sunday night.

Head Coach Jon Gruden addressed the media just a little more than 24 hours after the team announced Khalil Mack's trade to the Chicago Bears, and while Gruden went out of his way to wish Mack well on the next chapter of his professional career, he made it abundantly clear that his focus now shifts to the 53 men currently on the Raiders roster.

"We waited and waited," Gruden said when asked about giving Mack a little more time to show up to the team facility. "The Rams game was looming. Our feeling was that he was not going to report any time soon. I saw the Redskins go through it with Kirk Cousins. It's a long process. You can wait it out, you can franchise him, you can force him to play, but we made a decision and we're going to stand by it."

That decision – a blockbuster, Saturday trade with the Bears – resulted in the Raiders receiving two first-round draft picks, one in 2019 and 2020, as well as two other selections, a bounty that proved to be too much to turn down for Gruden and General Manager Reggie McKenzie.

"It wasn't my goal to trade Khalil when we got here," Gruden explained. "One of the reasons I'm here is because of him. Unfortunately, we had a standoff with the contract and we could not come to terms. The Bears made us an offer of two first-round draft picks and here we are today. We have to put together a 53-man roster."

Part of that roster construction is predicated on hitting with draft picks, and the fact that the Bears were willing to part ways with not one, but two, first-round selections in exchange for Mack certainly swayed the decision of both Gruden and McKenzie.

"Getting two first-round picks from a team is a lot of resources," Gruden said. "There's no guarantee that you can get two ones in six months or two years, there's no guarantee whatsoever. But, two first-round draft choices is a lot of compensation and we have to do something with."

In the meantime though, without Mack roaming the defensive front, Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will lean on the other pass rushers on the defense to make life difficult for the opposing quarterback.

And according to Gruden, that pressure can manifest itself in myriad ways.

"There's other ways to get to the passer," Gruden said. "There's other ways to get to the passer besides just the four-man rush. Somebody has to step up. It's Arden Key's time. Bruce Irvin has to step up. Perhaps that means more blitzing, we'll have to see."

During his four years as a Raider, Mack totaled 40.5 sacks, went to three Pro Bowls, and won the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year award, and while Gruden understands that there will indeed be some skepticism surrounding the move, he and the rest of the front office are comfortable with the decision.

"We're going to be second guessed until the cows come home on this, I understand that," he said. "Bottom line is, we did do our due diligence, there was a standoff and he got a great contract from the Bears."

In addition to Mack's production on the field, he was also a defensive captain during his time in Silver and Black, and Gruden did acknowledge that he spoke with the team following the trade.

"I addressed it with the team," Gruden said. "He's a great player and a good teammate. A lot of these guys were very good friends with him. It was tough, but he's been gone for a long time. Like I said, we wish him the best. We have to build this football team. We have a lot of needs. We'll address them as we see fit. It's never easy saying goodbye to anybody especially a great player."

But, with just over a week until Gruden, Derek Carr, and the rest of the team kicks off the 2018 regular season, the Raiders have said goodbye.

The team will return to the practice field Monday morning.

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