Chicago Bears Should Follow These Steps To Maximize Trade Of No. 1 Pick: Terry O’Neil

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Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles is poised to trade the upcoming No. 1 overall draft pick, and we’re here to help him maximize value.

With so many clubs needing quarterbacks, Poles’ position is strong. But it’ll be important for him to show a plausible basis for his asking price. Style points are important within the fraternity of NFL club management.

The draft-pick value table devised by Jimmy Johnson in the early ’90s, tweaked a few times in subsequent years, remains useful for late first round and below. But it’s badly out of date for top 20 picks, which have become so treasured as to require a separate equation.

For instance, in 2021 when Miami traded from #12 to #6 to draft Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins paid two-and-a-half times the cost stipulated by Jimmy’s chart. New Orleans, trading with Philadelphia last April in pursuit of Chris Olave, paid five times the theoretical price.

And those were deals for non-quarterbacks in slots below the stratosphere. All recent data argue that access to elite QBs entitles the trading club to a reasonable premium.

Poles’ first call should not be to #2 Houston, but rather to #4 Indianapolis. He should be absolutely transparent in telling Colts GM Chris Ballard that he’d like to make two trades – first exchanging places with Houston, then giving Indianapolis a chance to move from #4 to #2.

Why? The Texans are holding a unique commodity – #12 in the first round (from the Deshaun Watson trade) in addition to their own #2 choice. Poles should tease Ballard that he’ll try to give him a slight discount on the rate he charges Houston.

The Chicago Bears are likely to be active in shopping the draft’s first overall pick. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images).

What Would Be Chicago’s Asking Price?

The next call Chicago makes is to Texans GM Nick Caserio. Citing comparables such as the two named above, Poles can conclude that the market dictates compensation three-and-a-half times the Jimmy Johnson formula. That calculates to Houston’s #12 pick and its third-round selection (#65).

It’s hard to imagine Caserio refusing. He knows Ballard pledged last week

to “do whatever it takes” to secure his QB-of-the-future. Caserio will probably be grateful that Poles did not bypass him in a direct deal with Indy.

Assuming agreement, Poles can then tell Ballard that Houston has established valuation: The price of moving up one slot is a 1st and 3rd. So the Colts’ cost of moving up two slots from #4 to #2 is two 1st (in 2024 and ’25) and this year’s 2nd (#35).

The discount is this: Indy’s future first-round choices are unlikely to be as high as the #12 yielded by Houston. With a record of 8-9 or 9-8 in future years, the Colts’ draft slot would be approximately 14th to 20th.

What can go wrong? Ballard could say he’s focused only on one quarterback and thus interested only in the top pick. That would be a blank check for Poles to request his current-year 2nd plus 1st, 2nd in both 2024 and 2025.

What if Poles completes the deal with Houston but Ballard balks at the price of moving from #4 to #2? Poles simply calls #7 Las Vegas and #9 Carolina and tells them he’s willing to open a negotiation with whichever club can secure Arizona’s #3 selection.

But the most likely scenario is that both proposed deals are completed. Both offers are fair, and the cost to Indy – two 1st, one 2nd – is exactly the price Washington paid in 2012 to move up from 6th to 2nd to draft Robert Griffith III.

Not only would the Chicago Bears harvest three 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd, but the Bears would move back only to #4, which assures them of one of the two defensive studs in this draft – Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia DT Jalen Carter.

How would this haul rank among such trades all-time? Just below Dallas’ 1989 Herschel Walker robbery of Minnesota and just above Washington’s 1999 Ricky Williams raid of New Orleans.

Is Poles equal to the challenge? On one hand, he is Jesuit-educated at Boston College. On the other hand, he’s the man who this year waiver-claimed Alex Leatherwood, gifted Roquan Smith to Baltimore, and traded his precious second-round choice (#32) for Chase Claypool.

Ryan Poles, your chance for redemption is at hand.

Written by Terry O'Neil

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