The Chicago Bears are “eager” to trade down from No. 3 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, reports MMQB’s Peter King. The New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers are also cited as teams that want to move down, with King noting that there a few unnamed suitors who in turn, want to move up draft slots.
It’s now obvious just staying in their slot and selecting whoever becomes available, whether it’s the third best defensive player left or a quarterback, isn’t a desired outcome for the Bears. This is an interesting and not at all surprising report that sheds a light on the current Bears’ thought process concerning this incredibly crucial draft for this regime.
First, and while this is partly speculation, and while it’s also possible Chicago is just exploring every available avenue, it’s evident that the Bears aren’t in totally in love with any guy they believe will be available when they’re up in the first round.
Whether that’s LSU safety, Jamal Adams, Clemson quarterback, Deshaun Watson, or even North Carolina quarterback, Mitch Trubisky. These players are all no doubt quality good prospects to them. They’re just not completely enamored with any enough to forego trading their high selection at third.
Now if the Bears had a chance at Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett and the generational edge rusher he appears to be, the circumstances might be different in this situation. But the expectation is that he will go No. 1 overall one way or another. So really, the Bears are instead moving in other more detailed directions even while possibly holding out hope for that .0001 percent chance he does fall to them.
Second, this is one of the best draft classes in years, particularly at safety and tight end - two huge positions of need for the Bears. The consensus is that there are so many starters and potential unearthed stars after the first round to be found. In that light, general manager Ryan Pace would prefer to stay around the top 10 (a guess of teams around there), while acquiring more second and third-round picks that can become core players to fill out his roster.
Trading down, especially in this draft, isn’t a bad strategy in theory and quite honestly might even be the ultimate ideal for Chicago and Pace. Yes, even if the Bears did have a true shot at a Garrett-type player. You want to be able to take advantage of such a deep class in the midst of your rebuild if you can, instead of the one “sure” thing.
Do you take the one dominant pass rusher or most polished safety? Or do you want multiple starters and core guys at multiple positions of need in one fell swoop? The latter should be an easy call to make for every executive.
Let Pace do his best ‘Sonny Weaver’ in Draft Day impression, but without a lot of the filler and unnecessary trades (there might even be a Bo Callahan player to avoid). Make it more focused and less Hollywood. Get the deal(s) done.
Of note, while it’s only been two years now, the Bears and Pace do have a history when it comes to trading near the top in the draft. Sure, there’s a lot of wheeling and dealing once you hit the second and third days from generally everyone, but this is more about Chicago going for home runs.
In 2015, there were reports that Pace actually wanted to trade up to No. 1 overall and snatch away franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota from the Tennessee Titans. The team had pre-draft contact with the passer and wanted an opportunity to select him. Of course, Chicago sat at No. 7 overall, and in the end the price to get the No. 1 pick was way too steep for a bare-bones team who needed contributors in so many other areas.
A year later in 2016, the Bears actually succeeded in trading into the top 10 at No. 9 overall, to leapfrog the New York Giants for the promising Leonard Floyd. There was a lot of smoke pointing New York to Floyd with the tenth pick and Pace wasn’t going to take that chance on a player he liked a lot slipping away.
Given that Floyd looks be on his way to evolving into a franchise pass rusher for Chicago, I’d say that initiative paid off.
This time though, it’s different for the savvy Pace.
This time, the Bears are the seller with the asset everyone wants, well relatively, because it’s going to depend on what San Francisco does with it’s more valuable No. 2 overall pick.
For example, say the 49ers’ asking price is too high in a trade. That could benefit Chicago in their own negotiations, even while the organization technically possesses a lesser selection in comparison. A team that wants to move up balks at what they have to do to get San Francisco’s second pick and instead moves on to a cheaper Bears offer. Or the 49ers could complete a deal with one of those few aggressive teams and potentially ruin all of the Bears’ chances. There are a lot of scenarios in play here with no clear answer until very likely April 27th.
Who are the mystery teams that have a dialogue with the Bears that want to move up, too?
Maybe the Carolina Panthers want LSU running back Leonard Fournette and are afraid the Jacksonville Jaguars would take him at No. 4 overall.
Maybe the Los Angeles Chargers want Adams leading their secondary and want to leapfrog a Titans team that could take the star safety with the fifth pick.
Or possibly the Cleveland Browns, who are specifically cited by King as one such anxious team that wants to potentially move up. Perhaps they want to almost guarantee getting the quarterback they like (Trubisky?) by giving up their two second-round selections this year along with the No. 12 overall pick. They can also always let a team choose from their “treasure trove” of selections so they, in turn, can solidify themselves in the top three.
The possibilities and dream scenarios for the Bears are endless. It’s just going to have to take someone to pull the trigger.
I don’t know how busy Pace’s phone is nowadays, but he’s definitely got two or three other general managers on speed dial for all contingencies at this rate. I’d imagine his head circles around this thought written on a note in his pocket, paraphrased.
Vontae Mack ... Deshaun Watson ... Jamal Adams ... no matter what - except in the event of more draft picks.”
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.