Just when I thought the NFL Trade Deadline would slide by without a big splash, the Rams began the week trading for all-world pass-rusher Von Miller. So, with that in mind, I’m preparing myself for more unexpected trades to cross the wires between now and today’s 3 p.m. CT deadline.
We’re obviously watching what the Chicago Bears do today. A team at a crossroads on the field has a general manager in the final year of his deal and a head coach on the hot seat. That’s a recipe for … something, right? We just don’t know what. The Bears are trekking through muddy waters right now, but clarity could come with how the team approaches the deadline. Here’s what we’re keeping tabs on this morning
The obvious move would for the Bears to go into sell mode. No, the NFL isn’t structured like MLB where you can ship players for prospects. And it’s not as if teams are equipped to have a firesafe on a Tuesday, then bring in a bunch of players to field a competitive team just a few days later on game day. But there is a recent trend of teams swapping players on expiring deals for future draft considerations.
It so happens the Bears have a handful of such players.
Allen Robinson II
The most obvious trade candidate is Robinson. Yesterday, we explored a caveat that could make the path to trading Robinson a bit easier.
In a potential Allen Robinson trade, the #Bears can pay for any of the $9M+ remaining on his franchise tag by converting it to a bonus, a source confirmed. Just can’t add extra years to spread out the cap hit. @PFF_Brad was on top of this clarification yesterday.
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) November 2, 2021
This type of maneuver that could allow one team to eat some salary in exchange for a better trade return. We’ve seen these types of deadline deals in baseball, but not so much in the football realm.
There is no shortage of teams who could use a player with Robinson’s résumé, even if this year’s production isn’t meeting expectations
After seeing the Rams go all-in and add Miller, it’s easy to wonder if the Cardinals (7-1) would strike back with a deal of their own. And after losing JJ Watt to a season-ending shoulder injury, plugging in a stud defender would be a sensible move. Maybe Hicks makes sense for this franchise.
Much like Robinson, nothing has come about on the Hicks extension front. That’s kind of a bummer, especially since Hicks — a fan favorite and productive player — has made it known he wants to stick around. But if the feeling isn’t mutual, then it is in the Bears’ best interest to move a player. And while trading Hicks would be sub-optimal for the short-term, there could be long-term benefits. Moreover, it would be fun to unleash Hicks on a title contender.
Anybody Want a QB?
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) November 1, 2021
The Bears are (rightfully) all-in on developing Justin Fields. Hence, there is no good reason to keep both Andy Dalton and Nick Foles. Getting anything in exchange for either quarterback would be a net positive.
Buyers? (No, Seriously…)
No, this doesn’t seem like an ideal time to “buy” for the Bears. But they could still do something creative.
For instance, the Bears sent a conditional late-round pick to the Chargers in 2017 in exchange for Dontrelle Inman. Chicago’s football team was going nowhere fast. Head Coach John Fox was on his way out the door, and Pace was set to enter a lame-duck year at season’s end. It wasn’t an ideal time to do some buying. And yet, with the idea of getting his developing quarterback another target, Pace made the in-season addition of Inman to the wide receivers room. Inman finished with 23 catches, 334 receiving yards, and one touchdown in eight games. And because Inman never reached whatever criteria was needed in order for the pick to vest to the Chargers, the conditional pick remained in Chicago. If anything, that’s the type of trade the Bears should be looking to make.
For what it’s worth, Pace has been relatively active on the trade market already. Receiver Anthony Miller was sent packing to the Texans during training camp. More recently, the team brought in return ace Jakeem Grant Sr. to fill a special teams void. With that in mind, a pre-deadline deal today isn’t out of the question. Moreover, the chance the Bears do some buying is not zero. At least, based on history.
Sometimes, you’re stuck dancing with the date you brought to the shindig. And, frankly, that’s the most likely Bears scenario that plays out.
Left tackle Jason Peters has some value. I mean, who wouldn’t want a lineman who is heading to the Hall of Fame when his career is done? Running back Damien Williams could have value to a team aiming to bolster its ground game. Moving pass-rusher Robert Quinn would come with an up-tick in dead-money cap hit, but would clear up space for spending next offseason. Tight end Jimmy Graham has a no-trade clause, but made it clear he wants to win. Maybe he’ll waive it for the right deal. Dealing Khalil Mack entered the equation when the Broncos moved Miller. But a $24M dead cap hit in 2022 probably kills that possibility unless an acquiring team wants to blow the Miller deal out of the water.
In the end, Pace has put so many chips on the table betting on 2021. With that perspective in mind, it would be tough for him to pull out now. As the TikTok folks often say: “You’ve got to see it through, my guy.” And I think that is what will ultimately happen.