While the vast majority of Bears fans seem pleased with the team’s first-round selection (and the draft as a whole), some still believed Chicago’s best draft-day plans would’ve involved trading back in the first round and acquiring more draft capital.
The Buffalo Bills owned a pair of first-round picks and were one of the teams who presented the possibility of a trade-back option. And whaddaya know … Bills GM Brandon Beane says the Bears were one of the teams in the mix regarding a draft-day deal. So, this should’ve been easy … right?
Well, in an interview with One Bills Live, Beane explained the process it took to come to an agreement and also shed some light on why a deal with Chicago never came to fruition: “Five was the spot I thought we could get a reasonable deal, but five was gonna cost us pick 22,” Beane explained. “I had already checked with Indy, and knew they had honed in on a guy. They were like, ‘Unless our guy is gone, we’re picking.’ Tampa had said, ‘We got a guy, and it’s gonna take a lot.’ And Chicago had a guy.”
Knowing what we know now, the Bears’ “guy” turned out to be Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. But if Smith was off the board, it sounds like a deal could have been struck (Michael: Query whether that also included Quenton Nelson, but let’s not get off track in hypotheticals). Instead, Buffalo was able to find a trade partner in Tampa Bay, which was willing to move out of the No. 7 pick and into the No. 12 spot and still draft its “guy” in Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea.
A natural reaction to this deal would be to wonder if the Buccaneers received top value. Based on what Beane offered up, I’m not totally convinced Tampa Bay got everything it could have from Buffalo.
Beane was ultimately able to make a deal without without trading his second first-round selection, which he seemed willing to trade only for the No. 5 pick. But with North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb available, Denver wasn’t going to trade out of that opportunity and were essentially eliminated as a trade partner.
Buffalo eventually used that second first-rounder in a deal to move up and draft Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, so it’s understandable why the team insisted on not dealing that pick. So with that off the table, teams tried to get creative and channel the trade blueprints of the Chiefs and Texans from 2017 in demanding next year’s first-rounder for a deal. Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News tweeted two teams wanted the Bills’ 2019 first-rounder as part of a deal, but that was a no-go from Buffalo’s perspective.
In the end, the Buccaneers received a second-rounder in addition to the draft’s best interior defensive line prospect with the No. 12 pick. Still, the deal probably could have been better for Tampa Bay.
The Bills’ unwillingness to move the No. 22 pick or include their 2019 first-rounder could have been at the root of why Buffalo and Chicago were unable to come to an agreement on a deal. And since the Bears didn’t miss out on an opportunity to add premium picks of that quality, there’s a no-harm, no-foul feel surrounding this possible missed opportunity.
So instead of coming away with a trade, Bears GM Ryan Pace stayed true to his board and kicked off a weekend in which the team was widely praised for orchestrating a successful draft weekend.