For the first time we got an indication of when the Bears may trade away the No. 1 pick in the draft, if Ryan Poles decides to take that path. When meeting with the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, Poles explained the benefits of making the big move before free agency opens up on Mar. 15.
The key scenario where the Bears would want to consummate a trade down in the draft sooner rather than later is one where they receive a player as part of the package for the No. 1 pick. The benefits: “A clearer view of what we need,” per Poles. Meaning, if the Bears receive a cornerback via trade on Mar. 10, then they don’t need to shell out big bucks for a free agent cornerback in free agency.
Poles indicated the team has at least started preparations for that exact scenario, so it’s not out of the question that a move like that comes together. Could the Colts be tempted to include a player like Kenny Moore, who was instrumental in Matt Eberflus’ defense in Indy, in their desperation to find a QB? The Raiders already traded their star pass rusher to the Bears before in the Khalil Mack trade. Would they do the same thing again with Maxx Crosby if they’re dead set on jump starting their offense?
That doesn’t mean the Bears will for sure trade away the No. 1 pick in the next two weeks. With a deal of that magnitude, Poles needs to ensure he’s getting maximum value. If he isn’t happy with the returns he’s receiving in trade offers, he’ll sit and wait. And he should. Making sure the Bears get as much as they can for the No. 1 pick is more important than any benefits they may receive in free agency from acting early.
For what it’s worth, the two most recent times the No. 1 pick was traded away, it happened closer to the draft. The Titans traded away the No. 1 pick to the Rams on Apr. 14 in 2016, over a month after free agency began. When the Falcons switched spots with the Chargers to select Michael Vick in 2001, they did it on Apr. 20, one day before the draft began.