The San Francisco 49ers trading up to the third pick didn’t just hurt the Bears because it meant three quarterbacks would go in the first three picks. It also hurt because the trade illustrates what the cost will be for Chicago to get into position to select either of the other two premier quarterback prospects.
The 49ers traded three first round picks — including the 12th pick in 2021 — to move up nine spots. Even if the 49ers win the Super Bowl the next two seasons, the value of the picks they surrendered far outweighs the value of the pick they got. More likely, they’ll pick somewhere between 16th and 25th, which really blows the value charts out of the water.
What that means for the Bears is that even if two of the quarterbacks get out of the top 10 — possible, though not likely — the cost to move up to say 12 with Philadelphia is going to be astronomical. And doing so would firmly take the Bears out of the Russell Wilson sweepstakes because, even if the Bears have a quarterback the Seahawks would want, they wouldn’t have the draft capital to make the trade work.
It has to be asked, what is more likely:
(1) That the Bears trade three first round picks and solve their decades-long quarterback crisis with Mac Jones, Trey Lance or Justin Fields.
(2) That they use those picks to trade for Russell Wilson, who then solves the quarterback crisis himself.
The answer is pretty clear.
While Seattle was unwilling to trade Wilson in March, they might be willing to do so during the draft — especially since the Bears can offer a fourth first-round pick at that time. And if they’re still not willing to do it then, they may be more willing to do it after June 1 when Wilson’s dead cap hit drops significantly. Even if those don’t pan out, there doesn’t appear to be a single insider who believes Wilson will be a member of the Seahawks in 12 months. Whether it’s now, three months from now, a year from now, everyone seems certain that Wilson is going to be traded. The Bears have to be the team that wins the sweepstakes.
If the cost for trading for a quarterback who has established himself as one of the five best is similar to moving up in the draft, you take the star quarterback every time, even if you have to wait a year to do it.
If the Bears can pull it off, waiting just might be the best-case scenario. Imagine a world in which they’re able to add a receiver and an offensive lineman and then add Wilson to the rest of the roster. The key, of course, would be maintaining employment through a year with Andy Dalton. It’ll probably take at least 10 wins, which he can do with enough help.
We don’t know how the draft will play out, but with each day it seems increasingly unlikely that the Bears are going to have a good shot at one of the top five quarterbacks. Maybe they’ll get lucky and the next Aaron Rodgers will drop or a player outside that top five will pan out, like Wilson did for Seattle.
Whether it’s getting high enough in the draft to get a top quarterback, stealing one later or trading for the established star, the most likely scenario remains that the Bears can’t fix the position this offseason.