Discussion about trading away first-round draft picks for quarterbacks is very cheap on social media.
Actually committing to moving a No. 1 is quite another thing. It can be devastating for a team's future to deal away a No. 1 if the deal doesn't work.
Some would argue the Bears paid too steep of a price for Khalil Mack with two No. 1 picks and a No. 3, but those who claim this are at a loss to explain where their defense would have been the last three years without this move. They were 10th on defense before he arrived, but then third in yardage allowed with him in place. Their decline since 2018 had more to do with several factors, like overall defensive health, lost free agents, their own offensive incompetence, defensive leadership and scheme change.
If there is a position worth dealing away first-round picks to acquire, it's quarterback.
The problem with this is no one wants to do it unecessarily.
Proper compensation is a particular sticking point with the Bears in pursuit of Carson Wentz or their possible interest in Las Vegas' Derek Carr.
Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star put out a list of quarterback trades of recent vintage shortly after word of Colts and Bears interest in Wentz broke. It made observations within these trades in relation to Wentz's value.
The actual value based on precedent might indicate the Bears will need to part ways with a No. 1 pick, but it's a somewhat shady situation.
Erickson concluded the trade of Alex Smith from San Francisco to Kansas City came the closest to Wentz's situation without being an ideal match. The Chiefs coughed up second rounders in 2013 and 2014 for Smith, not a first-round pick.
The situation surrounding both players is somewhat similar. Wentz and the 2013 version of Smith were the same age, 28. Smith didn't enjoy quite the same success as Wentz did with a Super Bowl winner and both players had injuries. Then again, Smith never had the baggage being attached to Wentz right now in some reports—those suggesting he isn't a good leader or doesn't take well to coaching. Plus, Wentz's decline was more steep last year than Smith's ever was.
The article was probably looking at the situation with more of a Colts slant since it was the Indianapolis Star, but not entirely. It definitely didn't look at the trades through Bears binoculars.
There was a trade of more recent vintage on the list more applicable to the Bears situation. Ironically, it also involves the Eagles.
Sam Bradford's trade to Minnesota by the Eagles brought Philadelphia a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick in 2018. Eagles GM Howie Roseman was in charge then, so it's not surprising to see the reports he expected at least a first-round pick and more for Wentz. Ron Jaworski last week reported the Colts offer was two seconds as well as a third or fourth.
Bradford was never quite the success Wentz has been when healthy. The reason this is most similar from a Bears viewpoint is the Vikings at the time had lost Teddy Bridgewater to a bad knee injury and had no other choice. It was desperation time and they had to overpay.
Guess who is in desperation mode now?
Desperate Times and Desperate People
To some degree the Colts are desperate because they don't have an adequate quarterback on the roster but their cap situation is far better and money talks. They can always find someone in free agency and are also able to maneuver in trade situations as a result.
The Bears are far more desperate, and for that they can thank CEO Ted Phillips, and also team board chairman George McCaskey to some degree.
Teams know you're desperate if you're obviously not bringing back your starting quarterback from the playoffs, and then ownership/management goes to a postseason press conference and says improvement is required of the coach and general manager.
"We're not happy and we're far from satisfied," Phillips said. "Making the playoffs is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough.
"We need to win in the playoffs and we need to compete for and win a championship. We know we need to get better."
There are plenty who wonder for good reason what on earth Phillips knows about winning championships.
Yet, he is in a position of power and exerts pressure on both Nagy and Pace with a comment like this.
McCaskey didn't help remove any of this pressure by saying: "The sad fact is we are closer to the 2019 team than the 2018 team."
Their use of the language was almost comical in this situation.
"Well, Ted used the word 'improvement.' I used the word 'progress.' I think they are similar," McCaskey said. "I think all four of us will know whether there's been sufficient improvement or sufficient progress to continue past 2021."
McCaskey admitted neither would get contract extensions at the time and Phillips produced the noose: "When we show improvements, contracts will take care of themselves."
With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
Why the Bears needed to present ownership at a postseason press conference following a playoff season is beyond explanation.
This was a public relations person's nightmare.
Having Pace and Nagy at a press conference would have sufficed. Unless someone is being hired or fired, there's no reason to see the faces of the other two after the season.
Certainly fans love it because it might solve curiousity. The media loves it because it sells papers or generates clicks.
The ensuing parade around the radio dial McCaskey did by going to various Chicago stations to talk about what had been said at the press conference only served to add to the heat they had just applied to their coach and general manager.
Now Howie Roseman or Mike Mayock of Las Vegas enter into any kind of talks with Pace and know this is a guy entirely desperate. He's losing his job and is vulnerable. They can hold him up for a steep price.
It wasn't bad enough when Pace was bidding against himself in the 2017 trade to acquire Mitchell Trubisky. Now he's got his ownership putting him in a far more difficult position to try and improve the team. Back then he was starting out. Now, he knows it's produce or you're done.
Don't be surprised if the Bears cough up that first-round draft pick eventually because the person who is desperate in this situation isn't Roseman and the Eagles, or Mayock and the Raiders, or even the Colts with Chris Ballard and/or Frank Reich.
No one is threatening to fire Ballard or Reich even if they lack a quarterback right now.
It's Pace who's already in the hot seat, along with his coach.
Everyone knows it.
McCaskey and Phillips have unwittingly undermined the attempts of their GM to acquire a quarterback simply by being unable to keep their mouths shut.