Back in 2018, Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane sat in a similar position to where Bears GM Ryan Pace sits now. So if anyone is in a position to speak on trading with the intent to draft a franchise quarterback, it’s Beane.
Let’s travel back to 2018. That’s when Beane wanted to move up for a QB, but knew there’d be plenty of others trying to get to the same place. And, of course, where there’s competition, there’s the rising cost of doing business (to a point where the expected cost made Beane uncomfortable). So much so, in fact, Beane was hesitant to make a move that would result in the team losing both of its Day 2 picks in a move up for a QB. Ultimately, Beane rationalized making the deal by saying: “I knew Arizona was also in the market for a quarterback, and I didn’t want to risk someone else jumping us and taking Josh and me regretting Man, I held on for a pick just to get the value right.”
With that anecdote in hand, Beane opens the door for those of us who want to see how the sausage is made.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg:
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 25, 2021
In a video feature narrated by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a handful of NFL executives and league analysts went on the record to share what it’s like to trade up to trade up to take who, they believe to be a franchise quarterback. It’s nearly seven minutes long, but worth your time (really great perspective as to what happens when teams are racing to get an impact quarterback).
For instance, ESPN analyst Brian Burke says trading up to take a quarterback is “like putting money on a credit card that charges 400 percent interest.” Certainly, that would make many talent evaluators, scouts, and general managers nervous. Heck, my head hurts thinking about doing the math there. Nevertheless, clearly some front offices think the juice is worth the squeeze. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see the trades we have seen. And we also wouldn’t be hearing about the possibility of five quarterbacks going within the first six or seven picks.
First-year Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer seems to like this class as a whole. Easy for him to say. He’s getting Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, the 2021 NFL Draft’s undisputed top prospect, with the first overall pick. However, Meyer calls the class “very unique,” shares his belief that “there’s a bunch of starters” in the group, and hints at several could be starters for 4-5 years … at minimum. If you’re a fan of a team that doesn’t have a franchise QB *COUGH *Bears* COUGH* and is looking to trade up, then Meyer’s words are worth grasping as you hold out hope.
But before you start doodling hearts around drawings of Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones in a Bears uniform, heed the warnings of Colts GM Chris Ballard. Because back in that same 2018 NFL Draft class, Ballard was in a position of power wanting to move out without any interest in taking a quarterback, himself. Ballard offers up a cautionary tale from the perspective of a team waiting to pounce on a quarterback-starved rival. Knowing his team was in a good place owning the third overall pick, Ballard played into the Jets’ desperation.
The cost of doing business with the Colts?
Ballard flipped the third pick for the sixth pick, two second-rounders in 2018, and another second-round choice in 2019.
The reward on New York’s end?
Don’t get me wrong. There is tremendous upside in swinging for the fences, drafting a franchise QB, hitting on the pick, and riding the waves to better days. Watching your favorite team make the splash move is a glorious feeling. But there’s a real feeling of emptiness when said team whiffs on said pick. In the end, the juice is worth the squeeze — only if you pick the right fruit.