You don't get medals in football for trying, you get them for results. And the decision by the Bears to trade up for Mitchell Trubisky will ultimately be judged on the results. If Trubisky is a good quarterback, Chicago general manager Ryan Pace will be applauded for doing what he had to do to get a franchise quarterback. If Trubisky stinks, it won't really matter, because Pace's bags will be packed for him.
So it's easy to just throw your hands in the air and wait to find out whether Pace made the right move. But it's also important to point out that process matters too in these things. And the process for Pace and the Bears in acquiring Trubisky was severely flawed.
Let's look at a few reasons why.
The trade itself
The Bears shook up the draft when. No one saw the trade coming, except the 49ers, and they sure didn't see the Trubisky pick coming. No one did, not even Trubisky. That's fine, because you want to make sure your plans aren't picked up on by other teams.
But ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" sort of solidifies that idea too.on this one. An interview with 49ers GM John Lynch last week on
Lynch was asked how the trade went down and said that he heard from Pace ahead of the draft, with Pace talking about staying in touch because the two GMs were picking right next to each other for several days. Then Pace called back the day before the draft.
"The day before the draft, Ryan called back again and I could tell the urgency had heated up and he said 'There's a scenario here in the first round where there's some teams that I understand want to get up to two. Have you had conversations?' And I said, 'Yes, indeed we have, with multiple teams,'" Lynch recalled. "At that point, he said 'We want the opportunity, will you call me if those things heat up.' And so I said, 'Yeah, Ryan, we had this discussion, absolutely.'
"The next day, the morning of the draft, he called back again. And at that point he was ready to go. So those talks started and meanwhile there were a couple other teams who were interested and it kept getting better."
So while Lynch did tell Pace there were other teams calling about the pick (and swears those teams were real), he also, according to his account of things, didn't try and leverage Pace into making a deal. Pace was pushing things right along all by himself, ensuring that the two sides could make a deal. That is the definition of negotiating against yourself.
Additionally, while it was probably smart not to tell Lynch who he was taking (because then maybe Lynch uses that to call Cleveland for a higher price), Pace probably could have saved himself on the move up if Lynch knew he was getting Solomon Thomas anyway.
The. While two third-round picks and a fourth-round pick isn't an exorbitant amount to land a franchise quarterback, it's not that simple either.
The picks that the Bears gave away could end up being really quality pieces and/or players. Let's start with the No. 111 pick, which the 49ers promptly used to move up from No. 34 to No. 31 and grab Reuben Foster. That could have been the Bears, and they could definitely use a standout linebacker.
Even if they don't make that trade, the players being taken in the range of the actual pick include safety Tedric Thompson (No. 111, Seahawks) and wide receivers Dede Westbrook (No. 110, Jaguars), Josh Reynolds (No. 117, Rams) and Mack Hollins (No. 118, Eagles). You think the Bears could use another offensive weapon for one of their two quarterbacks?
Their future third-round pick, actual number TBD, could easily end up being a top-75 pick. It's very likely. That could be a starting player out of the gate for another team.
The one that really stands out to me is the third-round pick the Bears gave up this year, No. 67 overall. The 49ers flipped that pick to the Saints, who snagged running back Alvin Kamara out of Tennessee. Even though the Bears have Jordan Howard, Kamara would be a strong addition to this roster.
More important, the 49ers picked up a future second-round pick from the Saints for the trade, along with pick No. 229. The latter pick ended up being Adrian Colbert, a cornerback out of Miami. If he ends up being any good, remember how they got him. And if the Saints end up going 7-9 for a fourth straight season, remember who the 49ers take with their top-50 pick next year. New Orleans picked No. 42 overall this past season and could very well give up a similar pick to the 49ers next season. The draft is a crapshoot, but there were some seriously talented players available at No. 42 this year.
The Glennon factor
The biggest surprise about the Bears and Trubisky was the fact that Pace just went out in free agency and. Anyone who saw the money knew that Glennon wasn't guaranteed to be the starter in Chicago for more than a single year. But he was finally signing somewhere to be the guy, for at least a season, and that's likely out the window. Combining these two quarterbacks puts a pretty big wrench in the plans on a couple of different levels.
For starters, there's the obvious: competition. If Glennon struggles early or if the Bears aren't winning out of the gate, there will be substantial pressure to play Trubisky. Pace has stated repeatedly that Glennon is the starter, but depth chart lip service in May becomes worthless once August and September roll around.
Pace knows the construction of this roster better than anyone else, because he largely constructed it. But there is certainly the possibility of a Glennon-Trubisky battle early on managing to fracture the locker room. The same goes for the team refusing to play Trubisky if the Bears are struggling.
At the very least, Pace has done a disservice to Glennon by signing him, presumably promising him an opportunity to play and then making a huge splash by drafting a rookie quarterback.
Oh, and he didn't tell Glennon he was doing it. The incumbent got to find out about his competition while at a Bears draft party held at Halas Hall. Bet that wasn't awkward at all..
Not telling anyone at all
The decision not to tell Glennon was bizarre. Butabout the move up to draft Trubisky? That was just wild. It has been repeatedly mentioned that Fox was "heavily involved" in scouting Trubisky and that's probably true.
Maybe Pace even told Fox before the draft, before the pick or before the trade. It's irrelevant, because it's pretty obvious that the coach and the GM in Chicago aren't working hand-in-hand at the moment.
Pace isn't required to tell Fox every move he's making, but his goal should be providing the best possible team for Fox to coach up and that has to require some input from Fox.
The lack of harmony has a bit of "Grigson-Pagano" to it, albeit with less public sniping and fewer wins. Pace might outlast Fox in Chicago, but it's not a good look to have these public issues happening while the team is trying to acquire a franchise quarterback and get the ship righted.
It just doesn't scream "harmony" or "competent."
The final take
Again, maybe it all works out of the Bears. The Seahawks drafted a quarterback (albeit in the third round) the same offseason they signed Matt Flynn to a big free-agent contract and got blasted for picking Russell Wilson (who actually kept Glennon on the bench at NC State for two years). That worked out pretty well.
But the investment here in Trubisky isn't a single third-round pick, it's a fourth-round pick, too, and another third-round pick next year.
Pace will be fine with the move if Trubisky becomes a top-10 or top-15 quarterback some time in the next two or three years. But ultimately the process that led to the selection was badly flawed. The Bears shouldn't be rewarded for their decision-making in that respect, regardless of how this whole thing pans out.