It happened. It actually happened; a draft-night trade involving the Chicago Bears moving up to select the class's top overall QB prospect in Mitchell Trubisky. Never before, in the history of the Chicago Bears, has a move like this ever been made. Needless to say, like many of the local beat writers have published with their respective agencies, this is a big deal.
Initially, and understandably, the cost of moving a single spot forward was considered "too rich" by fans and professionals alike. This type of trade is also rare, as this has happened only once before. In 1998, as fans may not wish to remember, the (then) San Diego Chargers finalized a deal with the Arizona Cardinals which granted San Diego the rights to draft 2nd overall. The deal was announced a full day in advance, and the terms of the trade are listed below.
San Diego received: 2nd overall pick (Ryan Leaf)
As mentioned previously, the deal was announced on the Friday before the draft began on the following Saturday, back when drafts would be held exclusively on Satudays as a full-day event. The Chargers made this trade with the intention of selecting either Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf, whichever QB the Indianapolis Colts didn't select. The Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning with the 1st overall pick of the 1998 draft, and the rest is history. This particular trade is considered by many as one of the single worst in NFL history, which has plenty of Bears fans concerned.
So, why are the Bears making a similar type of deal? The logical reason is very simple: to get their franchise QB. As 1st-year GM John Lynch mentioned himself during an interview, when he was asked how the San Francisco 49ers confirmed the Bears wouldn't take their targeted player in Soloman Thomas, John Lynch provided the following comments.
This guy’s (pointing to Shanahan) pretty bright. I think you could see his offensive bias I think I’ll say (laughing), he said that’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback. And he was right. (Tim Kawakami, Mercury News)
That excerpt is from the 49ers' post-1st round press conference, and a full transcript can be found here. What's interesting here is that Lynch suggested this deal was on the table for quite a while, perhaps over a week in advance. This essentially confirms the idea that Trubisky was and always has been Ryan Pace's top target in this year's draft, and when he saw his opportunity to make a move, he pounced on it. Deja vu, perhaps?
Some words of encouragement: the trade of which the Bears made last night, is completely different and more reasonable in terms of cost.
To summarize, the Bears formally announced a deal with the 49ers to swap first round picks, only after the Cleveland Browns made their selection of Myles Garrett official. Leading into the draft, there were plenty of sources believing Cleveland was planning to select Mitchell Trubisky with their 1st overall choice. In fact, this year potentially marks the first time in draft history that any mystery of the 1st overall selection lasted up until one hour in advance of the draft clock. In direct comparison to the previously mentioned 1998 trade, listed below are the official terms of the Bears' deal with the 49ers.
Chicago receives: 2nd overall pick (Mitchell Trubisky)
San Francisco receives: 3rd overall pick (Soloman Thomas), 67th overall choice (3rd round), 111th overall choice (4th round), and 2018 3rd round pick
Yes, mathematically speaking, 4 is in fact a greater number than 3. However, the Bears managed to get away with keeping their 1st and 2nd round picks of 2018 intact. Moreover, they were the only team who traded up in this year's draft for a QB, that have been able to keep their future 1st and 2nd round choices. I am, of course, referencing the other two QB trades that happened last night: the Kansas City Chiefs' trade with the Buffalo Bills for selecting Patrick Mahomes II; and the Houston Texans' trade with the Cleveland Browns for selecting Deshaun Watson. Those deals are listed below.
Kansas City receives: 10th overall pick (Patrick Mahomes II)
Buffalo receives: 27th overall pick (Tre'Davious White), 2017 3rd round pick, and 2018 1st round pick
Houston receives: 12th overall pick (Deshaun Watson)
Cleveland receives: 25th overall pick (Jabrill Peppers), 2017 2nd round pick, and 2018 1st round pick
When you consider all the variables, the Bears actually got a reasonable deal for the right to draft Mitchell Trubisky. Provided that the Bears take advantage of their remaining chess pieces, they'll have the physical tools to build around Trubisky for the long-term. In direct contrast, neither the Chiefs nor the Texans will have their 2018 1st round picks available, nor did the Chargers have their 1st round pick in 1999. Furthermore, the Texans will be without their 2nd round pick in either this year or next year's draft. Whether Pace keeps the privilege of building around "his" QB, and not another GM, remains to be seen. He's hitched his wagon to the success/failure of Trubisky's development, along with the results produced from his FA signings and previous/future draft picks.
One thing has become definitively clear, Pace is doing all he can to finally end what has been a horrendous trend in Chicago.
Ever since the NFL Draft was officially established in 1939, the Chicago Bears had drafted a grand total of 59 QBs. The last QB to have been drafted by the Bears, prior to last night, was David Fales. He was selected with the 183rd pick of the 2014 draft, a 6th round pick. Out of those 59 QBs selected by the Bears, only 9 were chosen within the 1st round. Those players are: Sid Luckman (2nd overall, 1939); Frankie Albert (10th overall, 1942); Johnny Lujack (4th overall, 1946); Bobby Layne (3rd overall, 1948); Bob Williams (2nd overall, 1951); Jim McMahon (5th overall, 1982); Jim Harbaugh (26th overall, 1987); Cade McNown (12th overall, 1999); and Rex Grossman (22nd overall, 2003). Out of all the post-merger drafts (1967 and beyond), only McMahon was selected within the top five overall picks. The punky QB is also the only QB out of that group who earned a Super Bowl ring with the Bears, along with being the only Pro Bowl QB ever drafted by the Bears. Even more grim, is out of all 59 QBs selected, only two earned the right to be named Hall of Famers: Sid Luckman, and Bobby Layne. Out of those two players, only Sid Luckman stayed with the Bears. Bobby Layne, aka the Blond Bomber, was traded to the New York Bulldogs in 1949, and later traded to the Detroit Lions in 1950. Layne would eventually end his career in 1962 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, after Detroit shipped his rights to Pittsburgh in 1959. All of these players and draft choices can be found here, and if you want to refine or expand your search even more, just click on the different filtering options.
As you might have figured, the list and subsequent group of facts produced within the paragraph above was both painful for me to type, and has likely been on Ryan Pace's mind for quite some time. When he detected even a remote chance of another team attempting to make a deal for Trubisky, Pace acted quickly. Even I feel that this trade was filled with panic, yet when one considers the recent history of the Bears letting top targets get drafted before they're on the clock, one can understand where Pace is coming from. He was rumored to be interested in a trade for Marcus Mariota back in 2015, who ultimately went 2nd overall with the Tennessee Titans. He traded up from 9th to 7th overall in 2016 for the selection of Leonard Floyd, when word leaked out from New York that the Giants were prepared to draft Floyd at 8th overall. Following that deal, the Giants settled for Eli Apple, and the Bears' trading partner in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Vernon Hargreaves with their 9th overall pick. If Ryan Pace wants somebody in the draft, he will attempt to get him, no matter the cost. In this year's draft, he identified his top player, and he got him.
One can say he's foolish for biting hard on any bait cast in San Francisco Bay, but one must also respect the follow-through in his commitments.
Moving forward, Ryan Pace and his staff followed through on their convictions, and made a historic move as a result. As Brad Biggs and several other Chicago-based writers have recently mentioned, no price is too high when it comes to landing your franchise QB. John Fox has never been asked to develop such a high draft pick under center, as his only experience with a rookie QB was with Jimmie Clausen in 2010 with the Carolina Panthers. Whether Fox -- or Pace for the matter -- makes it to year two with Trubisky, remains to be seen. The current plan is for Trubisky to sit behind Mike Glennon at QB, a plan I am skeptical of myself, but will attempt to understand with the big picture in mind. And yet, only time will truly answer all questions. With that said, we all have witnessed Ryan Pace's long-term answer for what has been the QB conundrum in Chicago. If all goes according to plan, we might finally have a stud QB that was handpicked by the Bears. And, fortune favors the bold, this move is the manifestation of the term "bold." Take that, cheeseheads!
Damn, does it feel good to be back. Bear Down.