The trade winds in Chicago have really picked up in the last nine months, and the Bears have been in the thick of it.
Since December 2016, each of Chicago’s major professional sports teams (Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, Cubs) have made direction-altering changes to their respective rosters via trade. And over at the Chicago Tribune, Chris Hine discusses how things went down with the guys making the calls. Stan Bowman (Blackhawks), John Paxson (Bulls), Rick Hahn (White Sox), Jed Hoyer (Cubs), and Ryan Pace (Bears) explain everything from emotions, to thought processes, and other aspects along the way.
And because of the importance tied to the position and the value of the picks traded away in the process, one could argue Pace’s deal to acquire quarterback Mitch Trubisky was the biggest of them all.
When asked specifically about the thought process behind the trade that hopefully has brought Chicago it’s long-awaited franchise quarterback, Pace had a detailed explanation:
“You’re probably two weeks out from the draft, that’s when we’re conducting mock drafts and going over trade scenarios … We go back 15, 20 years and study draft-day trades to know what’s there and what’s not there. You’ve gone over all scenarios and I guess there’s adrenaline. Maybe some of it is tempered by the work you’ve done beforehand, but to visualize it all and then when you reach the moment where you’re, like, ‘OK, this is going to happen,’ and you visualized it and now it’s coming to fruition … Honestly I never had the emotion of ‘Aw, man, I hope this works out.’ It’s more ‘Hell, yeah.’ We visualized this and the moment has finally arrived.”
Clearly, there is a lot going on beyond picking up the phone, calling and/or texting with another front office executive, and making an agreement on a deal. It’s not the cut-and-dry process we’d like to hope it is when deals get done. And that’s good. It appears as though Pace and the Bears front office approached the NFL Draft with a plan and did their fair share of research, analysis, and internal debating along the way.
On the surface, these are the kind of sound processes good front offices walk through when making important decisions. And you’re not going to make a more important decision than drafting a quarterback when you’re running an NFL team.
And yet, there’s even more beneath the surface. Pace also detailed the emotional aspect of the process. The NFL is often a cold-blooded business, so it’s understandable to look past everything in order to get to the bottom line. One thing that stood out was Pace’s ability to rationalize the move after wading through the emotional waters.
“There are too many times you look around the league and you’re targeting a player you really like in the draft, for example, and he goes one pick in front of you. That can be demoralizing,” Pace explained. “If you’re in a position where, “Let’s get a guy we want, a guy we have conviction on and recoup some of those picks,” the satisfaction of getting a guy you want instead of just being passive, it’s more of a celebratory, happy moment.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because that seems like the kind of process a team would go through before making the kind of deal Pace did in order to land Trubisky. Now, imagine the feeling if you’re in the position to get a player you have your convictions on, take a passive stance instead, and watch that player go one pick before your team goes on the clock. On second thought, I’d rather not.
Pace and Chicago’s other front office executives also discuss the delicate nature of trade negotiations, gauging the changes in the market and what drives prices, and how things can fall apart. You’ll want to read Chris Hine’s full story for an extended look at how Pace and the other decision makers running Chicago’s sports teams get things done.