First, let me explain the goal of this series leading up to the draft. I want to take a move mentioned on the boards as a possibility and then explore what that move might look like in reality. I will try not to judge the move, and so I will not mention specific players. Instead, the idea is to talk about what the move itself looks like.
Imagine that it is late Thursday night in late April and Ryan Pace realizes that a quarterback he likes is still be available as it nears the end of the first round. For the sake of this example, it doesn’t matter who it is. Getting the fifth-year option for a quarterback could be huge for a long-term rebuild, and so Pace decides to move back in. How feasible is this?
It’s not just feasible, it’s a real possibility for the Bears.
Pace’s first phone call should be to New Orleans. The Saints currently hold an extra first-round pick, the 32nd pick in the draft. They might answer the phone, because they are thin in the middle rounds. If New Orleans sent the Bears #32 and #196 (their sixth-round pick), the Bears would owe them 604 points of trade value. That is the exact value of #36, #117 (the Bears’ second fourth-rounder), and #221. In other words, the Saints only lose four spots and get back into the fourth round (where they are currently without picks) and swap a sixth for a seventh. The Bears get the fifth-year option and the Saints get an extra pick out of the deal. This is a potential win for everyone.
However, imagine that the Saints have plans for that pick and Bears wanted to pull the trigger on “their guy” a little bit sooner, anyway. If they went after #28 instead (the Cowboys’ first-rounder), the Bears would need to flip their second-round pick (#36) and their third-round pick (#67 overall) for the Dallas first-rounder (#28) and third-rounder (#92). This technically has the ‘Boys coming out 3 points ahead in draft value, and one of the 7th-round picks Dallas holds (like #228) would balance that out, but that would probably come down to leverage in the situation. There is little incentive for Dallas to take this deal even if the points work out, because all they really get out of the deal is an earlier selection in the third round. It could happen, though.
Finally, let’s consider what would happen if the Broncos (#20) take one of the only two QBs left that Pace feels comfortable with. Trading with the Lions is probably a no-go, but the Dolphins might make a deal, as they are set at quarterback for the near future. Pace would have to offer #36 and #67 (giving up the second and third round) to get into the same value range as #22. Technically, this deal is short on the part of the Dolphins, but they don’t have a 6th-round pick to give back. They’d have to undervalue their compensatory pick (#184—these picks can be traded this year) or Pace would have to overvalue #223. That might be the cost of getting in ahead of the Texans at #25, though.
In other words, there are affordable scenarios for the Bears to get back into the first round if they need to, but unless it’s for a pick from the very bottom of the first round, Pace would have to sacrifice way too much of his room to maneuver.