Over at FootballPerspective.com, Chase Stuart decided to look at every trade involving two first round picks since the year 2000.
This is relevant to the Chicago Bears because the Bears have pulled the trigger on two of those trades: The 2009 trade with the Denver Broncos for Jay Cutler and the 2018 trade with the then-Oakland Raiders for Khalil Mack.
Stuart wanted to look into these deals and others after the Seahawks made the blockbuster trade for Jamal Adams with the Jets.
There have been eight trades involving two first round picks for a player in the 21st Century and Stuart ranked them from who gave up the least to who gave up the most in terms of draft value.
In the other half (which have all occurred in the last three years), the team trading away two first round picks wouldn’t lose any picks until the next season; presumably, that helped incentivize them to make the deal, as there is always a discount rate applied to trading future picks.
Let’s look at these 8 trades, from who gave up the least to who gave up the most. Note that I am only looking at draft value (or players, when included in the trade) sent over for the player
With this in mind, Stuart put the Mack deal at No. 8, meaning the Bears gave up the least amount of draft value in acquiring Mack.
Chicago sent slightly less than two first round picks because they also moved up from the 3rd round to the 2nd round in 2020; as it turns out, the Bears moved up from 81 to 43. Applying a 10% discount to Year N+1 picks and a 20% discount to Year N+2 picks, Chicago gave up about 23-24 points of draft value on my chart and roughly 1100-1200 points of draft value on the traditional chart. That’s equivalent to a top-15 draft pick, and perhaps as high as a top-6 draft pick.
This is a pretty good deal. The Bears got a two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro-Bowler and gave up a top-15 pick. Overall, pretty good value. With that said, Stuart is reluctant to call the Bears winners.
There are no clear-cut winners or losers in this deal; I don’t think either team is all that close to a Super Bowl right now. Chicago did get an immediate year 1 return, but the Mack trade hampered the ability of the team to build a better offense. It’s too early to grade the Raiders picks.
As for the Cutler trade, well even that one didn’t make the cut as the worst trade (or least value), it came in at No. 4 so middle-of-the-pack.
Valuing Orton is a challenge in this analysis; the Bears obviously wanted to move on from him, but a young, capable starting QB holds value. This part is more art than science, but I’ll say Orton — who was the 106th pick in the draft two years earlier and had overplayed to date (he finished 21st in ANY/A with Chicago in 2009) — was worth the 60th pick in the draft.6 If we do that, it would mean that Chicago sent about 28-29 points of value on my draft chart and 1800-1900 points of value on the traditional chart. This involves using the 11th pick in Year N+1, which is surely more capital than the Bears expected it would have been. But by either chart, Chicago gave up the value of a top-5 overall draft pick.
He was unkind to the whole thing in the end though, but I think most of Chicago would agree:
Not good for Chicago — Cutler never turned into the player they hoped for and underachieved in Chicago. He did have some good stretches, but overall this was not a great trade for Chicago and turned out to be an excellent one for Denver.
It’s interesting though because none of the players taken with what would have been Chicago picks became superstars: Mike Wallace was a one-time Pro-Bowler (Denver dealt this pick to Miami) but Robert Ayers was never a Pro-Bowler for Denver and what would have been the Bears’ 2010 first round pick was dealt to San Francisco who took Anthony Davis (zero Pro Bowls) while Denver ended up with Tim Tebow.
Either way though, the Bears’ two picks weren’t awful, compared to the others on the list that ranked higher, but you’ll have to check out the article to see which those are, I don’t want to steal all of Chase’s work. I will say though he has the Jamal Adams trade at No. 5, having been just a bit of a better value than the Cutler deal, but he mentions it’s a better haul for the Jets than the Raiders got for Mack.