The Chicago Bears‘ 2021 season has taken a nosedive following a third consecutive loss, dropping their record to 3-5. Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers has many speculating that the Bears could trade many of their veteran players for draft capital before Tuesday’s NFL Trade Deadline. General manager Ryan Pace, despite having a poor history when trading draft selections, has found success in garnering trade value for his own players, which is something to keep an eye on before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Pace Has Consistently Found Higher Than Expected Value For His Players
When the Bears hired Pace as general manager in 2015, he was hired to overhaul a talentless roster. Chicago was coming off a disastrous 2014 season in which the team lost 11 games and had a historically bad defense. Pace obtained a Bears’ defense that lacked young talent as Chicago’s previous general manager Phil Emery drafted poorly and spent poorly on defensive free agents.
Pace went to work, as following the Bears’ week three loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 2015, he traded former Pro Bowl defensive end, Jared Allen, to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round selection. Chicago’s general manager then traded third-year linebacker Jon Bostic to the New England Patriots for another sixth-round draft selection. Many were shocked at Pace’s ability to get any value back as Bostic and Allen struggled in their short tenures with the Bears.
I'm told Jared Allen is 1st of a few trades Bears will make, they're looking to unload players that don't fit their scheme from prior regime
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) September 28, 2015
Nearly four years later, Pace would again find terrific value for several of his players as he traded Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard in early 2019 and tight end Adam Shaheen in 2020. For Howard, the Bears received a 2020 sixth-round selection from the Philadelphia Eagles. The trade came as a surprise as NFL teams knew that Howard did not fit Matt Nagy’s offensive scheme and that Chicago was keen on trading or releasing the running back, significantly diminishing any potential trade value.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 29, 2019
Where Howard impressed during his first three seasons in the league averaging over 1,110 rushing yards per season, Shaheen struggled at the tight end position. The former Ashland tight end only had 26 receptions and four touchdowns in just three seasons with the Bears. Despite Shaheen’s disappointing offensive output, Pace traded the tight end to the Miami Dolphins for a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft selection.
Earlier this year, Pace found trade value again for a disappointing Bears’ player in wide receiver Anthony Miller. Miller’s production had steadily declined since a 2018 rookie season in which he caught seven touchdown passes. The wide receiver was unlikely to make the Bears’ 2021 roster due to an ejection from the team’s playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, in which he punched a Saints cornerback following a play. Pace traded Miller and a 2022 seventh-round selection in return for a fifth-round draft selection from the Houston Texans. The former Bears’ receiver only played two games with the Texans this season before being released.
The Chicago Bears received a 2022 5th round draft pick from the Houston Texans in the Anthony Miller trade, per @FieldYates. Bears also traded a 2022 7th round pick to the Texans.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) July 26, 2021
It Will Be Interesting What Value Pace Can Potentially Get With The Bears Being Sellers
With the remainder of the Bears’ 2021 season dedicated to the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, it will be up to Pace to rebuild around the rookie quarterback. By trading away veteran players, the Bears can add much-needed draft picks for the 2022 NFL Draft, as they currently have only five selections. Chicago players that may be traded on Tuesday include wide receiver Allen Robinson, defensive end Akiem Hicks, Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, and potentially All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
Fields showed growth. Most important takeaway from this game.
However, the trade deadline is Tuesday.
Bears gotta start thinking about the future. This team isn’t making the playoffs.
Stack some picks.
— dave (@runbackdave) October 31, 2021
Robinson is the most likely Bears’ candidate to be traded as he is currently playing on a franchise tag and will be a free agent following the season. Wide receivers and backup quarterbacks are the most common players to be traded at the deadline to help bolster offenses, and provide additional security against injuries. The Bears’ top receiver has value as he has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and would be a solid addition to any team contending for a playoff spot.
Dalton or Foles could generate significant value as several playoff-contending teams could need a backup quarterback. The New Orleans Saints lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston for the rest of the season after he suffered a torn ACL in the Saint’s victory over the Buccaneers on Sunday. The Cowboys, Cardinals, and Browns could potentially look to bolster their backup quarterback position as their starting quarterbacks have battled injuries all season long.
From a defensive standpoint, Pace could see higher than expected value for the Bears’ defensive players following the Rams’ trade for All-Pro Von Miller on Monday. The Rams making an all-in move to bolster their roster for the playoffs could entice another playoff contender to trade for Mack or Hicks and give the Bears higher trade compensation. It would make no sense for Pace to hold on to his aging defensive end when it appears likely that Chicago will choose not to re-sign him following the end of the 2021 season.
If Von Miller fetches a 2 and a 3, how can the Bears not be shopping Khalil Mack?
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) November 1, 2021
Pace must get as much value out of any player that is a free agent at the end of the season nor fits in the Bears’ long-term plans. Chicago general manager has been able to get higher than expected trade value for former players that underperformed. With Tuesday’s deadline, Pace will have a chance to recoup some draft capital by trading away proven veteran talent, and it will be intriguing to see what the Bears’ can get in return.