May 13, 2021

Take 2: Should the Bears trade up in the draft? Or should they trade down?

Ryan Pace likes to wheel and deal come draft weekend. Whether it’s the first round or later, he isn’t afraid to trade assets to move up and select a guy he likes.

What does that mean for the Bears this year? They could hold tight at No. 20, but doing so likely means missing out on the top quarterbacks. Should they move up for a QB? Or should they move down and collect even more picks?

Shaw Local analyst Hub Arkush and Bears reporter Sean Hammond discuss both ideas here.

Hub: Sean, the Bears enter the 2021 draft with several serious needs and a quarterback position that’s been broken since the Korean War.

They have a first-round pick for the first time in three years as well as their own second-, third-, fifth- and sixth-round picks, and three additional sixth-round picks.

There are large segments of Bears nation, media and analysts that want them to trade multiple first-round and day-two picks to attack the QB problem regardless of the cost or holes it leaves behind.

I’m in the camp screaming, no, no, NO! There are no QB prospects other than Trevor Lawrence worthy of a price like that, and I’d much rather see them stand pat or even trade down to add more day-one and day-two picks to address both offensive tackle spots, pass rush, wide receiver, safety and quarterback without overpaying.

What say you?

Sean: I understand the appeal of adding depth, Hub, but the modern NFL is all about the quarterback and the Bears shouldn’t expect Andy Dalton to be the answer. While standing pat and taking a tackle at No. 20 is a fine decision, the Bears need to make a splash – which always comes at a cost.

I would argue every one of the top five quarterbacks in this draft is worth trading up for, to a certain extent. While we believe Lawrence is the best, I don’t think there’s that much separating QB1 from QB5. One of these quarterbacks is going to slip to the bottom of the top 10. If the Bears like him, they should go for it. In 2017, the Chiefs traded the 27th-overall pick, a 2018 first-round pick, and a third-round pick to move up to No. 10 and get Patrick Mahomes. If a similar opportunity arises with say Carolina at No. 8 or Denver at No. 9, the Bears should feel good about making a similar offer. A young QB with potential at least gives them direction for the next four-to-five years.

Hub: Sean, do Bears fans want playoff wins on a fairly consistent basis over the next four or five years, or are they going to settle for direction? Particularly when the odds are overwhelming on first-round QBs that he will take them the same direction Mitch Trubisky did?

If you’re ready to start a rebuild right now, then fine, I’m with you. They do have to fix the QB position.

But you have a veteran team with one more run, best case two, that may be ready to win right now on defense just by improvement from within. Problem is it’s being shackled by an offense that needs upgrades at both tackle spots, a young U or move tight end and another playmaking receiver. We’re not talking about adding depth, you can do that in the middle and later rounds. I’m talking about finding three rookie starters again like they did last year.

There may come a time when this team has to go all in on a QB, I just don’t think it’s this time with this group.

Sean: Playoff wins over the next four or five years? Who’s going to quarterback them to playoff wins in the next four or five years? Andy Dalton? Adding a veteran QB who hasn’t won a playoff game doesn’t push the needle.

Yes, this defense is built to win now, but let’s not forget that it was quite average in a number of key areas last season (run defense, pass rush, interception rate). Plus, I don’t think trading up for a quarterback signals a full rebuild. The 49ers certainly don’t think that. The Chiefs didn’t think that in 2017.

It gives you a bridge year where Dalton starts in 2021. If all goes well, you make the playoffs and probably lose the first or second round. If things go south, you give the rookie some playing time and get him game experience.

Right now, the Bears have no plan at quarterback beyond 2021. I can’t see that being the pitch that Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy made to chairman George McCaskey in January.

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media