The NFL trading deadline came and went on Tuesday with a flurry of significant activity. Not all of it squared with apparent in-season situations, however, while the Bears were making a quiet statement or two of their own along the extended trading way.
Surveying what did and didn’t go down around the NFL and what some of it suggests.
Earlier this year the Bears took the temperature of the situation with the New England Patriots and Jimmy Garoppolo. They weren’t interested in the Patriots’ price (a first-round pick and more) for the backup quarterback and sat out the final notes of that dance as Garoppolo went to San Francisco on Tuesday for a second-round pick. (The Bears also had made inquiries about Kirk Cousins, just to put this sort of thing in context. Due diligence means at least asking.)
Teams reportedly had interest on Tuesday in trading for Josh Sitton. The Pro Bowl guard remains a Bear, though, with the organization clearly not inclined to weaken the already injury-laced palace guard for quarterback Mitch Trubisky – the biggest reason why GM Ryan Pace didn’t gut his draft arsenal to bring in Garoppolo.
What the Bears did do, however, was trade for depth at wide receiver last week, giving up a conditional late-round pick for Dontrelle Inman. Not the marquee addition that standout Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin was for the Buffalo Bills, who gave up a No. 3 and No. 7 in the 2018 draft for a de facto No. 1 receiver.
The Bears at 3-5 project to have a higher draft slot in 2018 than the Bills, who stand 5-2 and are ramping up for a run at the Patriots this year, not next. So why didn’t the Bears make that same offer to Buffalo?
Probably a handful of reasons. For one, Benjamin is due nearly $8.5 million in 2018, the final year of his rookie deal, after which he will be up for a major long-term one. For another, the Bears privately expect to have Cam Meredith and Kevin White back from injuries in 2018, however problematic that hope might be, and had already mentioned an extension for Meredith, a restricted free agent after this season. For a third, Pace already has traded for Inman, invested in Markus Wheaton, faces a decision on Kendall Wright and is expected to draft a receiver next April.
The Seattle Seahawks enhanced Russell Wilson’s protective shield with a deal for Houston left tackle Duane Brown, giving the Texans two draft choices. Those picks were a No. 3 next year and a No. 2 in 2019. Again, the same draft offer from the Bears could have been more enticing, given that the Seahawks project to be picking later than the Bears at this point. But the Bears extended left tackle Charles Leno, who is at left because he didn’t work at right at all when the Bears tried him there. And Brown is 32, due $9.75 million in 2018 and held out for a new contract this year.
Perhaps most notable was any Sitton deal that didn’t happen. The Bears may be rebuilding (EVERY team is rebuilding every year; the only questions are how extensively and what areas), but they were not dumping veterans just to clear cap space or acquire draft picks.
A win-now mindset may be a stretch. But if the Bears undertook the organizational-quitting that multiple MLB teams do every year when the World Series is deemed beyond them, John Fox might as well pack now. And siphoning off any of what talent there is around Trubisky only puts the franchise quarterback at increased physical risk.
The Bears didn’t do that.