Bears Have ‘Talked’ With AFC Foe About Much-Anticipated Trade: Report

Bears Steelers Trade Back Talks

Getty Bears general manager Ryan Poles could attempt another first-round trade in the 2023 NFL draft.

The Chicago Bears are in a good spot to address one of their biggest roster needs with the No. 9 overall pick in this month’s 2023 NFL draft, but Bears general manager Ryan Poles seems to be laying the groundwork for another trade.

During April 10’s live-streamed episode of the Bootleg Football Podcast, E.J. Snyder of Windy City Gridiron disclosed that the Bears have been having trade conversations with the Pittsburgh Steelers about potentially moving back to the No. 17 overall pick, ideally being able to pick up another premium pick in the process for the upcoming draft.

“Bears and Steelers are possible. They’ve talked about it. I know they’ve talked about it,” Snyder said about possible draft trades to come. “It’s by no means for sure. … The most likely connect-the-dots moment is that Pittsburgh needs a tackle and they go up for one because there’s one they like and they’ll be gone by the time they pick at 17.”

The Bears have already traded back once, originally holding the No. 1 overall selection before dealing it to the Carolina Panthers for a massive haul that included an additional 2023 second-rounder (No. 61 overall) along with the Panthers’ 2024 first-rounder and 2025 second-rounder. While the return for moving back another eight spots would not be near as substantial, it could be one of the best avenues for the Bears to add a pick in the early parts of the second round — where the talent is considered deep.

The first round of the 2023 NFL draft officially begins at 8 p.m. ET on April 27.

Could Bears Reclaim Their Original 2nd-Rounder?

Bears Trade Back Claypool Pick

GettyThe Bears might be able to re-acquire the second-round pick they gave up for wide receiver Chase Claypool.

While Snyder’s report is the first real indication that the Bears and Steelers have been having first-round trade discussions, the possibility of the two teams working out a deal has been mentioned a few times over the past month. Most notably, longtime NFL scout Greg Gabriel floated the possibility of the two teams working out a deal on the Barroom Network Podcast, suggesting the Bears could ship Picks 9, 53 and 61 to the Steelers in exchange for Picks 17, 32 and 49 to better position themselves in the second.

If the Steelers are highly motivated to move up for their preferred tackle or cornerback, though, the Bears might be able to talk them into a simpler trade, one that would still see them move back eight spots in the order but also regain their original second-round pick (No. 32 overall) that they gave up to get Chase Claypool back in November.

The Bears would most likely be moving down another talent tier if they slipped back to into the late teens of the first round, but they could still potentially get one of the better offensive tackles in the class, such as Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, at the No. 17 spot. Adding the No. 32 pick without giving up either of their other second-rounders would also allow them to aggressively invest in talent on Day 2, specifically on defense.

Even if the Bears had to give up either Pick 61 or Pick 64 (which begins the third round) to get back Pick 32, it could be worth moving up so much farther in the second round.

Another Trade Back Could Be Backup Plan for Bears

Bears general manager Ryan Poles indicated to NBC Sports insider Peter King at the beginning of March that he was expecting to have about six to eight players on his draft board that he considered to be “blue” players — or premier first-rounders. Some of those guys might be quarterbacks. Others, such as Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson, are expected to be off the board before the Bears pick at No. 9 overall. But if one of the “blue” players on Poles’ board falls to them, don’t be surprised if he just uses the pick.

Right now, the biggest name to watch for the Bears is Georgia’s Jalen Carter. Once considered one of the top two defensive prospects in the 2023 class, Carter has seen his draft stock take a dive over the past six weeks following his March 1 arrest on charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a fatal crash that occurred in January. He has since pleaded no contest, according to ESPN, but the entire situation — along with Carter’s controversial pro day workout that turned off some scouts — has created a possible scenario where the star defensive tackle could still be on the board at No. 9 overall.

The Bears have done plenty of research on Carter with Bears insider Daniel Greenberg reporting that Chicago has spoken with people from Carter’s hometown to get a better sense of him. If Poles feels his character checks out and he is still available when they make their first-round selection, he could ignore the urge to trade back and just take a prospect who would be an excellent fit for their three-technique defensive tackle role.

Of course, the Bears could also just take another one of their “blue” players with the ninth overall pick if the value checks out. Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. or Buckeyes star wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba could both make sense in that regard as the top guys at their respective positions. Cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez or Devon Witherspoon or tackles Peter Skoronski and Broderick Jones might also fit the bill.

Read More