The injury bug robbed us of what should have been a rematch between Mitch Trubisky and Jimmy Garoppolo … and I’m still bummed about it.
It would have been a showdown between the Chicago Bears’ franchise quarterback and the one many believed could have been that guy had the team been able to successfully swing a trade with the New England Patriots like what the San Francisco 49ers pulled off. Late-season storylines don’t get much juicier than that, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Instead, a December dance between the Bears and 49ers has us re-visiting the 2017 NFL Draft day trade that will go down as an all-timer for both sides. It was a deal that set the stage for the narrative of the two general managers who engineered the trade and put both teams on courses each believed would lead them to brighter days ahead.
Adam Hoge of WGN Radio and Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times peel back some of the layers of the deal in pieces you should spend some time reading ahead of this afternoon’s game. Hoge sorts through things in an attempt to dispel the idea that Bears GM Ryan Pace was “fleeced” by then first-year 49ers GM John Lynch. Jahns navigates through the Bears options at the time, the team’s prior draft history, and the common theme of the 2017 draft being making moves with conviction. Together, both pieces serve us by helping us better understand the art of that deal.
To be clear, this trade was never going to be a fleece job and time is proving that to be the case. The Bears-49ers deal was always going to be one where both teams received what they wanted because both knew what each was dealing with when coming to an agreement. Lynch was getting the Niners the volume of draft picks he desired with an eye on building depth, while Pace received an opportunity to take the highest-ranked quarterback on his board. This trade – at face value – should go down as a win-win for both teams because each took away exactly what it wanted.
Chicago knew what it was getting into when making a deal. Remember, the Bears spent a ton of time building up interest in the No. 3 pick by fielding calls from teams drafting behind them. In mid-April, a report surfaced that the Bears were “antsy” to trade down from the third pick. From there, it was easy to deduce that teams were falling in love with one of the top quarterback prospects and might have been willing to give up a haul of picks in the process. As it turns out, that was the case as Pace told reporters in the post-draft press conference that he had conversations with teams looking to move up in the draft with the intent of selecting a quarterback. With that in mind, it’s probably not a coincidence that teams stopped calling the Titans (who held the fifth pick) after the Bears traded up and chose Trubisky.
And let’s not forget that Trubisky was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated quarterback of that draft class or that his pro day opened eyes with ESPN’s Todd McShay favorably comparing him to Aaron Rodgers and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock giving passing grades to Trubisky’s arm strength, ball location, accuracy, and ability to make anticipatory throws.
It all comes down to this: the Bears were ensuring an opportunity to select the quarterback it had the most conviction in going into the draft and did so by playing the market as well as possible. Now, whether they picked the best quarterback remains to be seen. After all, that’s why they play the games on the field and not via simulation. Right?