The Chicago Bears are in an attractive position at the top of the NFL Draft, and several suitors for that spot are expected to come calling.
One of the most interested parties could end up being the Las Vegas Raiders, who have no answers under center ahead of career 0-2 quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The Raiders select seventh overall and the gulf of six picks between them and the No. 1 spot, as opposed to two or three picks, could net the Bears draft capital spanning the next two or three years.
Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report on January 11 cited precedent for the top overall pick being valued at nearly a half dozen total selections, including two first-rounders.
“When the Philadelphia Eagles traded up from the eighth slot to No. 2 overall and drafted Carson Wentz six years ago, general manager Howie Roseman gave up first-, third- and fourth-round draft picks in that class, as well as a future first- and second-rounder,” Sobleski wrote. “A six-slot difference currently exists between the Bears and Raiders.”
Derek Carr is currently under contract with Las Vegas for the next three years at more than $121 million. However, the team can cut Carr in 2023 and incur a salary cap hit of just $5.6 million.
The Raiders will certainly try to trade the three-time Pro Bowler’s contract and if they can get a quality quarterback in return, there may be no interest in moving up the draft board. But most teams interested in trading for Carr — the New York Jets, for example — aren’t likely to be in possession of much value at the position.
Bears Should Shop No. 1 Pick if QB Justin Fields is Future in Chicago
Part of what makes the Bears’ situation so uniquely valuable is that the team is arguably already set at quarterback for the next decade, give or take.
Justin Fields was one of the most improved players in the NFL during his second season in 2022, throwing for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 1,143 yards and eight more scores, per Pro Football Reference.
Chicago could take a chance and draft a signal caller with the top overall pick. A few analysts, such as ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum, believe the Bears should go QB at No. 1 — the justification being that the Bears could keep the position affordable and competitive for a longer period of time, then use the extra money to add free agent talent to the roster.
“I would trade Justin Fields,” Tannenbaum said on the January 10 edition of Get Up. “If you can get at least a first- and a third-round pick, which I believe you can because so many teams need a quarterback, I’m gonna draft Bryce Young who I think is going to be a better quarterback than Justin Fields. … I’m resetting Bryce Young’s rookie contract and I’m gonna be able to get at least four starting caliber players.”
The Bears would also have C.J. Stroud and Will Levis from whom to choose if they decided to go QB with the top pick. However, the risk may be too great for the reward considering Fields is a proven commodity in several ways, even without ever having the benefit of an elite-level teammate at wide receiver during his professional career.
QB-Needy NFL Makes Bears No. 1 Overall Pick More Valuable
As much as the Eagles paid to move up six spots and draft Wentz, the Bears should be able to extract even more.
To start, Chicago owns the No. 1 pick and not the No. 2 pick, which should allow for an increase in value. Secondly, the Houston Texans (No. 2), the Indianapolis Colts (No. 4), the Seattle Seahawks (No. 5) and the Detroit Lions (No. 8) are all potentially in the market for a quarterback in this draft. Not to mention the Carolina Panthers (No. 9), who would almost certainly look to leapfrog Las Vegas if one of the top three-rated QBs remained on the board halfway through the top 10.
Finally, the Bears can posture that even despite having Fields under contract for several more years, they are potentially interested in a quarterback. Who knows? It might actually be true.
Thus, if Chicago does end up parting with the No. 1 pick, the team should be able to play the competition against one another well enough to get a franchise like the Raiders bidding at least six picks, including at least two first- and second-rounders, for the right to their choice of franchise quarterbacks in 2023.