You know we love talking about how the Bears could bring in Russell Wilson, or make a blockbuster move for Deshaun Watson. In the fairy tale, Ryan Pace pulls off another wonder deal, like he did in 2018 with Khalil Mack and the Raiders, either Wilson or Watson immediately becomes the best QB in franchise history, and the Bears win the Super Bowl each and every year until either the quarterback retires. Five years later Wilson or Watson, whichever guy they get, trots back out to Soldier Field for a halftime ceremony to have his jersey retired and a statue is erected outside the stadium.
But Peter King thinks it’s time for a reality check. Disclaimer, it’s pretty harsh.
“For a second, let’s be real,” King wrote in his “Football Morning in America” column. “Short of a miracle, the Bears are screwed. The reports last week that the Bears will go hard after Russell Wilson left me asking: ‘With what trade chips, exactly’ Why would Seattle incur a $39-million cap hit for 2021 by trading Wilson to the Bears for a package including (presumably) edge rusher Khalil Mack, quarterback Nick Foles, the 20th overall pick this year, and Chicago’s first-round pick next year, among other things? Seattle currently has one pick in the top 125 choices in this year’s draft (56th overall). How do the Seahawks find a QB-of-the-future hope with, say 20 and 56 this year, and no first-round pick next year? Seems like a futile pipe dream, that the Bears would have much Seattle GM John Schneider would find equitable.”
It’s true, the Bears can’t bring as much to the table as, let’s say, the Raiders. They’re another team on Wilson’s short list, and currently have the No. 17 pick in the draft. That’s only a slight upgrade over the Bears, but they can also offer Derek Carr in return, which is a huge upgrade over Nick Foles.
In a recent press conference, Raiders GM Mike Mayock heaped praise on Carr, making it seem like Las Vegas is not eager to switch quarterbacks. That doesn’t mean they absolutely won’t trade Carr, but maybe the Raiders won’t offer up quite as much as Pace would for Wilson, simply because Mayock’s not as desperate for a new QB.
As for the dead cap hit, that certainly stings. But, if the Bears and Seahawks wait until after June 1 to make the trade, that dead cap hit drops to $13 million in 2021, and $26 million in 2022, according to Spotrac. Whether or not the Bears want to wait until after the draft to lock up their next starting quarterback is another story, but at least it gives Seattle some more options. No matter the timing of a potential trade, it’s widely expected that the salary cap in 2022 should rebound, giving teams more wiggle room in the future. As things stand now, the Seahawks have $133 million in cap space in 2022, according to Spotrac, so they could get creative with contract restructures to help offset any dead money incurred by trading Wilson. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not impossible.
The one thing that truly could stand in the way of a deal coming together is the fact that the Seahawks really don’t have to make a trade. While Wilson’s agent did put out a list of teams for which he’d waive his no-trade clause, there’s still no indication that his relationship with the Seahawks has deteriorated to the point that he has formally requested a trade.
“I’ve thought for some time that the Bears will be left out of the prime QB stakes,” King said. “Chicago’s holding the 52nd and 83rd overall picks this year, and if the first round comes and goes without Wilson or Deshaun Watson coming, the Bears should pursue Las Vegas backup Marcus Mariota. I don’t know if he can fulfill the promise of pre-draft 2015, but he sure looked good in his brief trial with Vegas last season.”
With free agency officially opening on March 17, and the draft following on April 29, it may be some time until we know who will be the next Bears starting quarterback. Until then, dream on Chicago.