Bears Trade Proposal Flips Top Pick For Star WR, Draft Haul

Justin Fields

Getty Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields.

The Chicago Bears are looking to squeeze as much value as possible out of the top overall pick, which may include one of the NFL’s most exciting wide receivers.

The Bears need a reliable No. 1 target for Justin Fields if they expect him to improve as a passer in year three in the same sort of way he elevated his run game last season. One way for the team to do that is to work out a trade that includes a dynamic playmaker on the precipice of his second professional contract.

Among the top candidates in this regard is Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals. Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic noted on Wednesday that Higgins is potentially a trade candidate ahead of the 2023 season, despite back-to-back appearances for the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.

“Higgins is not a free agent. His contract dictates he reports and plays for the last year of his deal, worth $4 million, but conversations need to be had about a long-term contract,” Dehner wrote on February 1. “If the numbers are outrageous and it’s clear the two sides won’t see eye-to-eye, the Bengals could go the route taken by multiple teams in recent seasons and deal the receiver for a top draft pick and start the cycle over with a rookie receiver.”

Higgins Carries Mid-First Round Value, Giving Bears Options

Tee Higgins

GettyWide receiver Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 18, 2022.

Higgins is the No. 2 option in Cincinnati, but only because he is playing behind Ja’Marr Chase, who is one of the best receivers in the entire league. Higgins has averaged 74 catches, 1,060 receiving yards and 6.5 touchdowns over the previous two seasons and would be the top option on several NFL rosters, including Chicago’s.

Multiple wide receivers picked in the second round or below who have proven out as stars have pushed for big extensions after their third seasons in the league. Some have secured those deals, like Deebo Samuel with the San Francisco 49ers, while others have been dealt for draft capital, such as A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl-bound Philadelphia Eagles.

Picks falling in the middle of the first round have tended to be the going rate for players like Higgins who are ultimately traded. As Dehner noted in his piece, Brown brought back the 18th overall pick along with the 101st, while the Minnesota Vikings snagged the No. 22 selection from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Stefon Diggs — a pick that eventually became All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson.

Bears Could Acquire Higgins in Second Step of 2 First-Round Trades

Ryan Poles

GettyGeneral Manger Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears looks on during pregame at Soldier Field on September 25, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Several scenarios have been pitched in which the Bears trade twice in the first round.

At least four or five teams in the top 10 are hungry for the No. 1 selection and the franchise quarterback of choice they could draft with it. Chicago can feasibly deal the top spot for a haul, moving only one, three or six slots back in the process (in deals with the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts or Las Vegas Raiders, respectively). The Bears could then use the some of the spoils from said trade to acquire Higgins, while still holding on to a valuable selection near the top of the 2023 draft.

General manager Ryan Poles has already indicated his intent to create more value out the Bears’ fortuitous position, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Chicago needs help on the offensive line, defensive line and at wide receiver.

The right deal with a team like the Colts, which would drop the Bears to No. 4, would still allow Poles to draft a defensive game-changer like Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr. and use the rest of the bounty toward the acquisition of Higgins — effectively transforming the top pick into two elite players at positions of need.

The same could prove true of a deal with the Raiders at No. 7 if the Bears were ultimately able to draft offensive lineman Peter Skoronski at that spot, which appears a realistic draft position for the top-rated tackle in this class ahead of the NFL Combine.

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