The Bears and Indianapolis Colts appear to be a perfect match for a big NFL draft trade this offseason. The Bears own the No. 1 pick but have a rising star at quarterback in Justin Fields, while the Colts sit at No. 4 and have the draft assets to make the Bears a juicy offer.
They are stealing glances at one another from across the bar, and each offseason domino makes it more likely that the two are the ideal match.
During his end-of-season press conference, general manager Chris Ballard painted the Colts as an obvious trade target for the Bears. When asked if he'd move heaven and earth to bring a quarterback to Indianapolis, Ballard signaled that the Colts would look at all avenues to find a signal-caller.
"I'll do whatever it takes," Ballard said. "If we thought there's a player that we're driven to get that makes the franchise and the team better, that's what we would do."
On Tuesday, the Colts likely made themselves an even bigger trade target when they hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as their head coach.
In Steichen, the Colts get a 37-year-old offensive-minded head coach with a history of quarterback development.
Steichen took over the play-calling in Philadelphia midway through the 2021 season and played a significant role in helping Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts ascend from league-average signal-caller to NFL MVP finalist this year.
Before his time in Philadelphia, Steichen spent seven seasons with the Chargers, rising from offensive quality control assistant to offensive coordinator in 2020. During that lone season as the play-caller for the Bolts, Steichen helped then-rookie Justin Herbert author a record-setting season. Herbert broke the rookie record for touchdown passes (31) and threw for 4,336 yards.
Before Herbert arrived on the scene, Steichen worked with veteran Philip Rivers and was instrumental in the veteran playing some of the best ball of his career. In 2018, Rivers threw for 4,308 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions while recording a passer rating of 105.5, which tied his career-best mark.
The Colts' decision to go with Steichen, a young offensive mind with a history of developing young quarterbacks, suggests their carousel of veteran retread quarterbacks will officially end in 2023. Had owner Jim Irsay elected to hire interim head coach Jeff Saturday, who was a finalist, you could see a world where the former center would prefer to have a veteran behind center.
Indianapolis chose the right path in hiring Steichen. Now, Ballard and the Colts must find a way to get their 37-year-old head coach the quarterback he wants.
Irsay said as much Tuesday during Steichen's introductory press conference.
The Colts could choose to stay at No. 4 in the 2023 NFL Draft and hope the quarterback Steichen wants falls to them. But with Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars ascending in the AFC South and the Houston Texans owning the No. 2 overall pick, the Colts can't afford to miss out on the guy they want and fall behind.
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Steichen has worked with several top-level quarterbacks in various schemes, so it's hard to say which top prospect he'll prefer.
But his arrival in Indianapolis likely makes the Colts a more obvious trade target for Bears general manager Ryan Poles than they already were to begin the offseason.