If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace during his four plus years on the job, it’s that he’s one of the more aggressive GMs in the game today. He’s now presided over four NFL Drafts, and the only one where he stood pat and picked when his scheduled turn came up was the first one in 2015. If you guys remember though, that was the one where the draft data was already gathered by Chicago’s scouts that were hired by Phil Emery. There simply wasn’t time for Pace to assemble a new scouting staff after Emery was relieved of his general manager duties, so he had to roll the dice and go with the grades the current staff had. He merged those assessments with his own grades he had on the college athletes from his time working as the director of player personnel for the New Orleans Saints and went from there.
Pace has been aggressive in free agency too, but did you realize that we’ve also seen him make offseason trades involving players every year he’s been on the job, including two already this year.
Ryan Pace has assembled one of the better rosters in the NFL, so it makes sense that before the Bears get their team down to the mandated 53 players on Saturday, August 31, that Pace is going to work the phones to see what’s available in trade.
On my latest T Formation Conversation Podcast where I predicted Chicago’s 53-man roster and 10-man practice squad, I mentioned inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski as a trade candidate. He not only received a bump in his salary this offseason from the NFL’s Proven Performance Escalator system, but the Bears have a couple other inside backers that could fill his roster spot. If Pace could flip little used cornerback Deiondre' Hall to the Eagles for a seventh-rounder, who knows what he could get for players that have actually played. Kwiatkowski may have some issues in coverage, but he’s a good two-down player that also plays all the special teams.
Here are a few other potential trade spots for the Bears before they finalize their opening game roster.
Swing Tackle - With last year’s swing tackle, Bradley Sowell, cutting weight and playing tight end now, that meant the returning Rashaad Coward was the odds on favorite to man that spot this year. But he hasn’t exactly lit it up this offseason, plus he’s been nursing an injured elbow the last couple weeks. Coward has upside, but as a converted defensive lineman just a year ago, I’m not sure how comfortable the Bears are in having him play left tackle. He started his new o-line position at guard before moving to right tackle, and he’s yet to receive any game action on the left side. Chicago recently used undrafted free agent Alex Bars, a guard from Notre Dame, at left tackle in a preseaosn game, but I don’t think blocking in the second half of a preseason game against soon-to-be unemployed football players is an indication that he could man the job. If there’s a veteran swing tackle made available before cut down day, the Bears could look to deal.
Defensive back - I mentioned Hall going for a 7th earlier, and I think there’s some developmental prospects on the current 90-man roster that the Bears may think about trying to flip for a late pick. John Franklin III is an incredible athlete that has flashed during camp and preseason, but he’s not going to make the 53-man roster. Chicago would probably love him back on the practice squad, but if he looks good in the preseason finale, some team may not want to wait to see if Franklin is cut. DeAndre Houston-Carson is a safety with exceptional special teams ability, but with Sherrick McManis now moved to safety, DHC could be available.
Jonathan Bullard - In my latest 53-man roster prediction, I have Bullard out, but here’s a guy that has started a handful of games, plus he has special teams experience. At 6’3”, 297 he can play 5-tech defensive end in a 30 front, but he could also play defensive tackle in a 4-3. He’s solid against the run and will occasionally push the pocket, but Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris both passed him on the Bears depth chart.
Ryan Nall - Here’s a guy I have making the Bears’ roster, but as a fifth running back. He’s definitely a bubble guy, but I think he’s shown enough the last two preseasons to warrant a place on an active roster in the league. He’s a powerful runner with speed, but the Bears RB room is stacked. He might be worth a conditional seventh rounder to a team needing a versatile tailback.