There is already discourse over what the Chicago Bears should do with the first overall selection. A week ago, I shared a personal agenda as to the ideal scenario. However, it ignored all other possibilities. Today, those scenarios will be explored. 

Should the Bears trade Justin Fields and draft a quarterback?

Why would Chicago trade Justin Fields? 

First, he was drafted by neither general manager Ryan Poles nor head coach Matt Eberflus. They do not have ties to the quarterback and it is unknown how either felt about him pre-draft. Fields, who just concluded his second season, was drafted No. 11 overall. He is through 40% of his rookie contract if it is assumed that the fifth-year option would be used and the team has made little progress on the field.

Through two seasons, the Ohio State product has completed 59.7% of his passes to go along with 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. In addition, he has fumbled 13 times and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground. A porous offensive line, a lack of skill talent and coaching turnover has not exactly been conducive to growth but the franchise is left with questions. 

Fields flashed in a handful of games this season. There is reason to believe that, with time, he could reach his full potential. What is not known is how Chicago’s leadership feels about Fields and the prospective quarterback prospects. For that reason, it is impossible to entirely rule out the possibility of them moving in another direction. If there were an obvious upgrade at the position available, the Bears would probably go down that path.

Who could be interested in Fields, and what would it cost?

In this hypothetical, Chicago has taken a quarterback No. 1 overall. One of the perceived top-three quarterback prospects (Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis) is off the board, which leaves quarterback-needy teams like Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Carolina and potentially Detroit and Seattle jockeying for those available players. Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson and Fields fall into that next bucket of ‘high upside with baggage,’ whether that be a running clock on a rookie contract or a player with a long road of necessary development ahead of him. 

The aforementioned teams that do not land one of those three rookie quarterbacks could be interested in Fields. Tampa Bay and Washington are a few others that may also be in the mix.

What would it cost a team to acquire the Bears quarterback?

There is not a lengthy history of a prospect as naturally talented as Fields being traded two years into a rookie contract. A handful of veterans like Carson Wentz, Sam Bradford and Alex Smith have been traded for a first-round pick and a Day 2 pick well into their careers. Chicago is unlikely to receive a pick in the top half of the first round so it is more likely that it would fetch a late first-round pick or potentially a few Day 2 choices. 

What if the Bears trade the No. 1 overall selection?

The No. 1 overall pick has not be traded since the Rams moved up from No. 15 overall in 2016 to select quarterback Jared Goff. The first overall selection had been traded one other time since 2000 — when Atlanta traded up from No. 2 overall to select Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick in 2001.

There are a few recent examples of teams trading up for a quarterback, but none are apples to apples. 

  • In 2016, Philadelphia traded up from No. 8 overall to No. 2 overall for the right to select North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. The Browns received third- and fourth-round picks, as well as first- and second-round selections the following year. 
  • In 2017, Chicago traded up from No. 3 overall to No. 2 overall. In exchange, San Francisco received a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a third-round choice in 2018. The Bears used the pick to take North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.
  • In the Goff trade, Los Angeles surrendered two first-round selections, including the No. 15 overall selection in 2016, two second-round picks and two third-round picks. Tennessee also received fourth- and sixth-round picks. 
  • In 2021, Miami received three first-round picks in total, including the No. 12 overall selection, as well as a third-round pick, from San Francisco in exchange for the No. 3 overall selection.

Basic economics teach the principle of supply and demand. When supply is low and demand is high, costs are also very high. There are roughly 10 playing a game of musical chairs with three or four chairs, and the music has begun to play. 

SportsLine.com’s R.J. White constructed an updated trade value chart a few years ago and placed 1,000 points on the No. 1 overall selection. The No. 2 overall selection is worth 695.80 points so it should be easy to see the value in having the first pick. 

Since 2010, there have been 12 trades up the draft board in pursuit of a quarterback. In each of the 12 trades, the team trading the rights to the quarterback received greater compensation than the pick equivalency. On average, the team trading the higher pick received a +211.799 point differential, which is the equivalent of the No. 23 overall selection. In three of the 12 trades, the team moving up to take a quarterback sent a top-five pick back in the following draft.     

Here are some mock trade offers based on all of that information:

  • Indianapolis receives the No. 1 overall selection in exchange for the No. 4 overall selection, No. 35 overall selection and first-round selections each of the next two years. 
  • Houston receives the No. 1 overall selection and Chicago’s third-round pick in exchange for the No. 2 overall selection and a first-round pick in the 2024 and 2025 NFL Drafts. 
  • Carolina receives the No. 1 overall selection. The Bears receive the No. 9 overall selection, No. 39 overall selection, 2024 first-and second-round picks and a 2025 first-round choice. 

Chicago can accept any deal it pleases. When all is said and done, the most likely outcome is the retention of Fields for at least one more year and a trade down. In that scenario, the franchise gets more time to evaluate the young quarterback. If that proves to be misguided, the Bears would presumably be in a position to draft a top quarterback next year when USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and others are expected to be available. 

The 2023 NFL Draft is to take place from April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri. 

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