Chargers land Khalil Mack in what's turning into AFC West arms race

Chicago Bears EDGE Khalil Mack vs. Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers
Chicago Bears EDGE Khalil Mack vs. Los Angeles Chargers QB Philip Rivers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Chargers are engineering a blockbuster trade with the Bears, acquiring Pro Bowl EDGE Khalil Mack and adding more fire to what's becoming a stacked AFC West.

If there were any doubts whether or not the AFC West was en route to becoming the toughest division in the NFL this season, especially after the Denver Broncos engineered their own blockbuster trade for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, those doubts just got put to rest on Thursday.

The AFC West is, with little doubt, the best division in football right now.

As the arms race heats up within the division, the Los Angeles Chargers are responding to the Wilson deal with a massive acquisition of their own, trading for Chicago Bears perennial Pro Bowl pass-rusher Khalil Mack, as reported by multiple outlets including ESPN's Adam Schefter Thursday afternoon.

Schefter also added later the Chargers were going to send Chicago a 2022 second-round NFL Draft pick along with a 2023 sixth-round pick as return compensation for the recently turned 31-year-old Mack.

Mack had something of a down year last season, recording only six sacks and being sidelined with injuries to the tune of seven games played. However, he did enjoy nine sacks the season before amid his most recent Pro Bowl campaign, and he's only a few years removed from his 2018 first-team All-Pro selection.

Needless to say, the Bolts can feel pretty good about adding a player of Mack's caliber to a defense that managed a middle-of-the-pack 35 sacks last season.

Chargers needed to grab Khalil Mack to keep pace in AFC West

Denver doesn't figure to be a last-place team within the division after doing so in back-to-back years, at least not with Wilson in the fold. And with the Kansas City Chiefs already holding strong onto the division with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Co., it makes sense why there's such an arms race going on.

Read More: Ranking AFC West quarterbacks after Russell Wilson trade to Broncos

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert looks to be Los Angeles' answer to Mahomes, Wilson and Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, yes, but the Bolts vastly need to improve their defense heading into 2022 if they want to turn the page on what was a disappointing premature exit from playoff considerations a year ago.

It's certainly safe to say Herbert will be in the consideration for the AFC West's second-best quarterback behind Mahomes, although Wilson and Broncos fans may argue that.

Either way, it's still a close race there.

Yet the difference will likely be made up for on the defensive side of the ball, and Mack will go a long way towards achieving that goal. Paired with fellow EDGE Joey Bosa now, the Chargers pass rush just improved by a long shot, and it's only further proof the Bolts now play in the NFL's toughest division.

Read More: 5 greatest defenses in Chargers franchise history