Ever since the Chicago Bears "earned" the Number One pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, all Bears fans have done is talk about trade-down possibilities. Since I have been involved in several draft day trades, I know firsthand that it's a process that takes a while to develop.
Until recently, trades to move up in the Draft didn't happen until right before or on Draft Day itself. That changed in both 2016 and 2021.
In 2016, there were actually three trades made so that two clubs could position themselves to draft a quarterback. On March 9th of 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles moved up from number 13 to number 9 in the Draft order by trading with the Miami Dolphins. The Eagles exchanged their 13 pick and two players in order to complete that trade. They only made that trade to position themselves to make another move about a month later.
That same year, the Los Angeles Rams were in desperate need of a top quarterback and made the move from number 15 to first overall on April 14th, which was two weeks before the 2016 Draft. The Rams gave up their first-round pick, two second-round picks, a third-round pick, plus their first and third-round pick in 2017 to make the trade from 15 to one.
Five days later, on April 19th, the Eagles made their second trade by moving the recently acquired 8th overall pick to Cleveland for the 2nd pick in the Draft. That assured the Eagles that they would be able to draft one of the two top quarterbacks in that Draft, who were Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. In order to move from eight to two, the Eagles had to give up the eighth pick, their third and fourth-round picks, as well as their first pick in 2017 and their second-round pick in 2018.
The price to move up was high because of how far both the Rams and Eagles had to move. In the Rams' case, it was almost a 2000-point move using the chart, and because they were giving up draft assets in future years, they had to pay a bit of a premium.
In the Eagles trade from eight to two, the point differential was 1600 points. Again because part of the return was in future years, they had to pay a premium to make the trade.
If neither team was desperate to get a quarterback, those trades would not have been made. In other years trades have been made on or close to draft day. In 2003 when I was with the Bears, we had the fourth pick in the Draft. The day before the Draft, we got a call from the New York Jets, who were trying to get that fourth overall pick. The Jets had two first-round picks that year (numbers 13 and 22), and they gave us those two picks plus their fourth-round pick to make the deal.
Our pick was worth 1400 points, and the three picks the Jets gave us were worth a total of about 2050 points, so we came out ahead on the deal.
In other recent big trades involving the Bears, the trades were all made on Draft Day. In 2017 the Bears moved from number three to number two when San Francisco, who owned the number two pick, was on the clock. In 2021, when the Bears moved up from 20 to 11 to select Justin Fields, that also was made while the Giants were on the clock. Bears General Manager at the time, Ryan Pace, said after that he did not make a call to the Giants until the morning of the Draft. In the 2017 trade, Pace started conversations with the 49ers about a week before the Draft.
That brings us to 2023. Almost all Bears fans would like the Bears to be able to move down from that first overall pick. There is a good chance a trade can and will be made, but it isn't a lock, and it is, at minimum, at least two months away from happening.
Why the wait? A lot of things must happen before any trade discussion can happen. That not only includes potential draft-eligible quarterbacks but veteran quarterbacks.
As of today, several veteran quarterbacks could hit the market in the coming weeks. They include Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Jimmy Garoppolo. Where those quarterbacks end up will affect the trade market for draftable quarterbacks.
Then there is the Aaron Rodgers situation, and who knows what will happen there. Does Green Bay actually trade him, and if so, to what club?
Several clubs have a need for a quarterback. The Raiders are going to move Carr, but who will they replace him with? The Washington Commanders have been playing with journeymen quarterbacks the last few seasons and have to get a reliable player at the position.
The New York Jets used the second overall pick in 2021 on Zach Wilson, and he has been a bust to date. Do they trade for a veteran, or do they draft another quarterback? Houston and Indianapolis, who hold the second and fourth picks, respectively, both have huge quarterback needs, and the thought process is they will go with a rookie and not a veteran. Other clubs that have a strong need are Carolina and New Orleans.
This many clubs with needs make trade scenarios easier, but still, all the information on draft-eligible quarterbacks isn't in yet. But even more important is the fact that neither Indianapolis nor Houston has hired Head Coaches yet. Once they hire a Head Coach followed by Coordinators, we can begin to see what kind of offensive philosophy those clubs will have. That could have a say in which quarterback fits their scheme better.
Draft Boards won't begin to be constructed until right before the Combine, but those boards a very fluid depending on the results of many things at the Combine, Pro Days, and Private Workouts.
Being I am In Vegas as I write this, if I were betting on when a trade will be made, I would bet the earliest is a week before the Draft. That will give the clubs involved plenty of time to set their Boards and determine how they rate the quarterbacks. What would help the Bears is if both Houston and Indianapolis perceivably want the same player. That could make things interesting.