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A Lesson for Ryan Pace on Value of the Future

Analysis: The Bears have been far too willing to trade away future draft picks in order to move up and take players and then they pay the price.

When the Bears traded on draft day in 2018 to move up and select Anthony Miller, they dealt away the 105th pick that year to the New England Patriots.

This was a fourth-round pick, but it wasn't the only part of the deal.

They also gave away the 56th pick of the 2019 draft, their future second-round pick. New England traded away that pick to Kansas City and at No. 56 in 2019 the Chiefs selected speed demon wide receiver Mecole Hardman.

Wouldn't that 56th pick of 2019 look better now for the Bears if it had simply been Hardman instead of trading away the future for Miller in 2018?

This is a real bad habit Bears GM Ryan Pace has gotten into during the draft. They think they settle on a player and are willing to trade away future picks to acquire him.

The Bears did this with Trevis Gipson in 2020, and then didn't have a fourth-round pick this year because of it. They had so many needs in the secondary and at wide receiver that they could have used a fourth-round pick on in 2021 but they didn't have a pick after the second round until they chose Larry Borom in the fifth round. This was because they decided to take an edge rusher they really didn't need in 2020. Gipson could develop into a fine player yet, as he's barely had a chance to prove himself. But their situation in the secondary this season looks extremely shaky as a result of not being able to select a DB between Rounds 2 and 6.

The Bears had no second-round pick after trading it away for Miller, and as a result when they got to 2019 and needed a running back they were sitting on pins and needles hoping to have a chance for David Montgomery. When he was still there in Round 3 they were lucky, but again they had to trade up and in the process gave away the 125th pick in the 2020 draft as well as No. 87 and No. 162 to do it. They really needed that 125th pick in 2020 because they went from Round 2 until Round 5 before picking. Maybe they could have used it on Gipson without dealing away a future pick, if they were so set on taking him.

Teams can trade away the future when it's certainty. When Khalil Mack is there and available for any picks, you make the deal. This is a player with Pro Football Hall of Fame level talent. When quarterback Justin Fields is available and the Bears needed to move up 10 spots to get him by trading away a future pick, it's justifiable because of the position's importance but mostly because every one except possibly Chris Simms of NBC Sports has deemed Fields a potential star.

Moving up in Round 2 to select Teven Jenkins was more palatable this year because the Bears gave up picks during the 2021 draft to do it. They weren't mortgaging their future the way they did when they traded up and picked Miller, who is now a Houston Texans receiver.

Miller's failures as a wide receiver stemmed from his lack of attention to detail. This much should have been determined before the Bears even selected Miller, and that falls back on Pace and his staff.  

After last season ended, Bears ownership talked about how much better Pace is doing as a GM since he began collaborating with Matt Nagy on making selections in the draft.

Which brings up 2017. That's when Pace made his most infamous draft deal and moved up to take Mitchell Trubisky when no one else was trying to move up for Trubisky. He gave away several picks to do it, including the third-round pick of the 2018 draft. 

In 2018, the Bears had plenty of needs and one was an inside linebacker. They drafted Roquan Smith and he appears headed for a great career, but if they never dealt away a future third-round pick they could have used it for the player the 49ers took with that  pick the acquired, All-Pro inside linebacker Fred Warner. 

Then the Bears could have focused on another need spot in the first round where they took Smith. 

If Nagy has this much influence over who they now draft, then perhaps he needs to advise Pace to quit trading away future draft picks.

Sometimes the future comes back to bite you.

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