The Chicago Bears have around three months to determine what they plan to do with the #1 overall pick. GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus will spend much of that time evaluating all the top prospects through the Senior Bowl, scouting combine, and pro days. However, they will also be waiting to see what other teams do. It isn’t a secret the Bears aren’t likely to take a quarterback with Justin Fields already in place. That means a team desiring a QB should see the #1 spot open for business.
The obvious question is which of them, if any, is likely to make such a deal. I decided to do a ranking of every team that might have a possible interest in moving up from least likely to most likely. This should help provide an idea of the Bears’ market and how Poles will approach it.
The Chicago Bears may have plenty of contenders.
7. Tennessee Titans
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The AFC is positively stacked with quarterbacks now. Patrick Mahomes leads the way, followed by Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Trevor Lawrence, and Justin Herbert. As good of a team as the Titans may have, there is no way they can navigate that hellscape without a QB of their own. Ryan Tannehill’s time is over. Malik Willis was an intriguing flier but didn’t look like anything close to what they need. The problem is Tennessee sits at 11th overall in the draft order. They would need a monster package to reach #1 overall, and there is a strong probability Poles would have zero interest in dropping that far.
6. Seattle Seahawks
There are many reasons to like the Seahawks as a trade partner. They hold the 5th overall pick and have another 1st rounder at #20. That gives them plenty of ammunition to move up if they choose. GM John Schneider isn’t afraid to be aggressive when the situation demands it. Geno Smith is also a free agent. While his 2022 season was a surprise hit in Seattle, he turns 33 this year and expects a significant pay raise. That puts them in a tough spot. Either they give him the money or consider starting over with a rookie QB. The latter likely wouldn’t appeal to a 71-year-old Pete Carroll.
5. Atlanta Falcons
The Matt Ryan era is over. Marcus Mariota gave it his best shot, but it’s obvious he isn’t the future in Atlanta. The big question for them is how much they believe in Desmond Ridder. Do they think he has franchise QB potential? His play late this season offered few answers they were hoping for. That leaves GM Terry Fontenot with three options. Ride it out with Ridder, dabble in the veteran market, or take his chances in the draft. The latter seems possible. He will have the always-aggressive-thinking Ryan Pace in his ear. If they zero in on a QB they like, don’t dismiss the idea of them coming up from #8.
4. Las Vegas Raiders
The Derek Carr era is over. Everybody knows the Raiders are making a change at quarterback. Josh McDaniels wants his own guy. Early predictions suggest Las Vegas will be a prominent suitor for Tom Brady, who is a free agent. If they land him, that takes them out of the running. However, there is a possibility he will retire or signs elsewhere. If that happens, Las Vegas would have two choices. Either sign a lesser free agent like Jimmy Garoppolo or take their chances in the draft. They do have some intriguing pieces they can package in a deal to move up from #7 overall.
3. Carolina Panthers
Several factors are in play here. After trading Christian McCaffrey to San Francisco, Carolina has built up their draft inventory. They’ve tried the veteran quarterback route twice now with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Both were substantial failures. That makes them far more amenable to a draft approach. Last but not least, they have an owner in David Tepper known for inserting himself into roster decisions. If he develops a liking for any of the top QBs, rest assured he will press GM Scott Fitterer to make something happen. The question is whether they can put a package together that would entice the Chicago Bears to fall all the way to the 9th pick.
2. Houston Texans
Losing that regular season finale remains baffling for Houston. It cost them the #1 pick and now offers another team the opportunity to jump ahead of them for a potential quarterback they may desire. That puts GM Nick Caserio in a tough spot. Either he takes the risk of letting that happen or opts for the safer route and works out a deal with the Bears to swap places. Houston has plenty of extra picks, including the 12th pick this year and two 1st round picks next year. They can easily pay the price necessary to secure the top spot. It would also appeal to Poles because he’d get some extra picks and still be able to pick the best non-QB prospect on his board.
1. Indianapolis Colts
There is a reason most experts view them as the likeliest option. After the Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan failures, Indy won’t go the veteran route. Owner Jim Irsay was reportedly adamant about going young at QB two years ago. He’ll be more forceful this time. GM Chris Ballard has a prior relationship with Poles from their time in Kansas City together. Last but not least, the Colts are far enough down to ensure the Bears secure a future 1st round pick in any deal while also keeping them high enough to get a top prospect they covet. Everything lines up. It comes down to whether any of the quarterbacks move them enough to spur action.