Prospective trades for the Chicago Bears‘ top pick in the 2024 NFL draft will continue to roll in until the team either deals the selection or uses it to nab the QB of the future.
But until one or the other happens, how is it possible to gauge which teams are viable trade partners for Chicago or how much those franchises will actually sacrifice for the first pick? ESPN’s Bill Barnwell attempted to whittle down the answers to both questions on Thursday, February 1.
Barnwell examined recent trades in which a team dealt the No. 1 selection (or something close to it), contrasting the returns of each deal with the others. Excluding just one of seven agreements Barnwell included in his analysis — the Bears’ trade with 49ers swapping two third-rounders to move up from No. 3 to No. 2 in 2017 — clear patterns emerge regarding expected value.
To start, every deal included a first-round pick. Five of the six agreements included at least two first-rounders, and three firsts exchanged hands on two occasions. The average number of first-round picks swapped per trade was 2.17.
There is more to discuss on the topic, and circumstances will dictate Chicago’s precise return. However, the Bears dealt the top pick in 2023 for two firsts, two seconds and wide receiver DJ Moore. As such, there is no reason to think that they would accept less than that for what is arguably a more valuable selection in 2024 considering the perception of this QB class.
Recent facts and Barnwell’s analysis then compute to the following:
Chicago’s expected return for the No. 1 pick in 2024 should be at least two first-rounders (one in 2024 and one in a following year), significant Day-2 capital (2-3 picks in the second- and/or third-rounds) and a star player.
Talented QB Class of 2024 Should Increase Bears’ Expected Trade Value for Top Pick
Generally, although not in every case, greater first-round compensation (and great compensation overall) was connected to trades in which teams moved from a pick in the double-digits up to one inside of the top-three.
The point being that the prospective trade partner will move the needle on what the Bears should expect to get back for trading the No. 1 overall selection. Another consideration is how said trade partner views the player, or pool of players, it can draft with that selection.
The sustained prowess of USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye should help the Bears’ expected return in this regard, while the ascension of LSU’s Jayden Daniels to Heisman Trophy winner and potential No. 2 or No. 3 pick also plays in Chicago’s favor.
Trade Partner Matters in Bears’ Expected Return for No. 1 Overall Selection
Barnwell listed the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots — who select at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively — as potential trade partners for the top pick. Chicago will get the least from these two teams because each is in position to draft one of the top three quarterbacks regardless of where they select.
Both teams offer interesting prospects for Chicago where a trade is concerned. If the Bears intend to keep Justin Fields, they can move back a spot or two, pick up significant value and then feasibly deal again for something like two firsts, a star player and more compensation. If Chicago intends to move Fields regardless but likes the player it can get at No. 2 or No. 3, then the top pick nets the Bears both draft assets and their quarterback of the future.
But it’s the remaining potential trade partners Barnwell names that offer Chicago the kind of single-deal return that history suggests the Bears should expect. Those are the Arizona Cardinals (No. 4), New York Giants (No. 6), Tennessee Titans (No. 7) Atlanta Falcons (No. 8), Denver Broncos (No. 12) and Las Vegas Raiders (No. 13).
The Falcons and the Raiders are interesting cases considering both would have to move up a significant number of spots to get to No. 1 overall, both have new head coaches and the Raiders hired Kliff Kingsbury — Williams’ quarterbacks coach at USC in 2023 — as their offensive coordinator on Friday.
Trade Return Predictions for Bears Are Massive in Prospective Deals With Falcons, Raiders
Atlanta has the kind of young talent that might intrigue the Bears, and which could potentially save the Falcons a Day-2 pick in the deal.
“This one could be fun. A.J. Terrell? Drake London? Kyle Pitts? I’m not sure the Falcons want to deal Terrell or London, and Pitts still doesn’t look to be 100 percent after playing with a surgically repaired knee last season, so maybe there’s not a perfect fit in terms of players,” Barnwell wrote.
Barnwell’s ultimate prediction was that the Falcons would send the Bears the No. 8 pick and the No. 43 pick in this year’s draft, as well as firsts in 2025 and 2026 along with a third-rounder in 2025 in exchange for pick No. 1 this April.
The Raiders would also be forced to give up three first-rounders, and then some, in Barnwell’s analysis.
“It’s tough to imagine the Bears going much lower than No. 13, at which point they’re just adding draft picks without any firm knowledge of where they’re going to land or what will be left on the board when the first pick they’re getting in this deal actually arrives,” he wrote.
Barnwell’s prediction for the Bears’ return from the Raiders was the 13th, 44th and 77th picks in 2024, first-round selections in 2025 and 2026, and a third-rounder next year followed by a second-round pick in 2026.
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