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Grading Ryan Pace: Early Trades

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Ryan Pace loves moving players and picks to give himself a better chance in the draft. This piece will dive into his early efforts to reshape the Bears using the trade market.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ryan Pace seems to like to make trades. It’s way too early (technically) to judge the impact of some of his later trades like the massive move to get Khalil Mack, but enough time has passed that we can evaluate a lot of his earlier moves. Just to simplify things, any move made before the start of the 2017 draft is up for evaluation. Note that this means that some of his best work, like the trade for up to get Anthony Miller or the move to secure Khalil Mack are still pending. It also means that I’m saving a discussion of the 2017 draft trades for their own article.

Each trade will be based on the overall value, how much sense the move made given the available options, and then how the move turned out.

Moves prior to the 2016 Draft

Pace traded Brandon Marshall and a 7th-round pick to secure a 5th-round pick from the New York Jets. At the time, that was decent value for a player of Marshall’s history and skills, and it also made sense to move on from a player who was increasingly difficult in the locker room and who might have (might have) left his best days behind him. Call this a B- for the value (he did well but not exceptionally well) and a C or C+ for the decision-making at the time. How did the move turn out? Marshall has been on three teams since then, and while he had a Pro Bowl year when he first moved, he quickly faltered. Meanwhile, the 5th-rounder he secured became Adrian Amos, who has been an anchor of the Bears defense. This is a solid B+ in retrospect. Marshall had something left in the tank and Amos is not a Pro Bowler, but this is definitely a net win for the Bears’ GM. The move gets Pace a B- (82%).

Jon Bostic was traded for a 6th-round pick. This made all the sense in the world at the time, and it secured the Bears decent value. Call that a B- in each category (alternately, you could call it a C+ for value but a B the decision-making). How did it turn out? Bostic stated with the Patriots for 11 games, and the 6th-rounder pick was bundled into a relatively weak trade. That’s a wash, as both teams honestly got very little value. This is basically a C, meaning the overall trade is a C+ (78%).

The Bostic 6th-rounder was bundled with Martellus Bennett later. This was a questionable move at the time. While it made a lot of sense to trade him, and while Pace secured solid value for the player given his history and production, it was not a home run. It was just a good move. Again, this is C or C+ territory. How did it turn out? Bennett went on to have mediocre production on a team that used him well, but crediting him for New England’s success is unreasonable, even if he did contribute in all 16 games while starting in 12. Meanwhile, the Bears used the 4th-rounder they received to draft Deiondre’ Hall, who is no longer with the Bears and who only played in 10 games for Chicago. That’s not good. That’s D-level value, because the Bears ended up getting less than they gave away, even if they didn’t give away all that much. That makes this a C C- overall (about a 73%).

Draft Moves of 2016

The Bears needed assets to enact Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense, and all indications were that New York was targeting Leonard Floyd, Ryan Pace’s prefered asset. In order to keep the Bears from being beaten to the punch, Pace jumped New York and gave up a 4th-rounder. That’s good value (it’s a bit of a discount) and all signs are that the Bears needed to make the move if they wanted Floyd. It was decisive, and it got the job done. Call this a B and an A-. Then there’s how it turned out. Hargreaves (taken with #11) has been unimpressive, and bringing up Eli Apple (#10) in New York is probably pretty touchy. Floyd is not without his critics, but if the worst thing that can be said about an outside linebacker taken in the top ten is that he has been a capable role-player who flashes moments of brilliance, that’s pretty good. Floyd is not a pass-rushing game-wrecker. Instead, he’s an all-purpose back who helps in all levels of the game. That’s a B. That means that the Floyd trade comes in at 87%, or almost B+-territory.

Then, Pace made multiple moves to ultimately turn the 41st pick in the draft into the 56th pick, a pair of 4th-rounders, and a future 4th-rounder. These were excellent moves at the time, as they let him recoup value, and all he was still able to target the player he wanted in Cody Whitehair. That’s an A- and at least a B+. As for how it turned out, he got a reliable center who just went to the Pro Bowl as well as three extra picks; that’s an A-, as well. Pace gets a really high B+ (89%), the type that makes a teacher wish the student had studied just a hair harder over the weekend.

Speaking of extra picks, Pace later moved up to grab Nick Kwiatkoski. It’s unsure how necessary this move was, but it cost next to nothing, so that’s a C on both fronts. As far as how it turned out, Pace picked up a marginal contributor with a 4th-round pick. He has had to draft at the position multiple times since then, but Kwiatkoski has been fine. Call that a C+ or even a B-. Overall, this trade is worth a 77%, or a C that looks like it might become a C+.

Grade for the Early Trades

Note that it might make a certain amount of sense to weight these trades someone, in that trading in the first round has more impact that swapping fourth-rounders, but the real question here is not whether or not Pace can select players at impact positions (that’s what the draft grades are for), but rather whether or not he is managing trades well and--to the best of our ability to tell--whether or not making the trade move in question was even a good idea.

Therefore, I am weighing all of these moves the same, taking them as a collective ability to evaluate Pace’s skill in trading during his early days in Chicago. HIs average comes in at 81%. That’s a B-, and it excludes some of his best work, like trading to snag Eddie Jackson or making the move to secure Khalil Mack. It also leaves out the second-biggest trade of Pace’s career, the move to select Mitchell Trubisky. Those moves, however, are franchise-defining acts that will need to wait for the next piece, when they can be evaluated with the detail they deserve.