Reports are that the Chicago Bears will be in on the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Even if true, keeping general manager Ryan Pace hurts them in a number of ways.
When George McCaskey went in front of the media and announced that the Chicago Bears would bring back team President and CEO Ted Phillips, general manager Ryan Pace, and head coach Matt Nagy, he took a big hit from talk radio and the fans. Even hearing that defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano would retire and not return did not satisfy the masses. Despite making the playoffs, the team suffered through a six-game losing streak and lost big to their hated rivals, the Green Bay Packers twice.
The fans wanted everyone fired.
Despite the struggles of the offense the last two seasons, the fact that the Bears righted the ship and found a way to make it to the playoffs likey saved Nagy’s job. However, Phillips and Pace were responsible for the moves made that didn’t result in a real competitive roster. In 22 seasons with Phillips, Chicago won just three playoff games. Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers matched that total in this year’s playoffs alone.
Pace put his job on the line (or so we thought) by trading away draft capital to move up one space to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky in 2017. His play didn’t match up to the second overall pick status he had. It now appears that he won’t return (or will he?) in 2021. The fact that Phillips and Pace return for another chance angered the fanbase.
Staying the course hurts the team in multiple ways
The move to keep things the same hurt the team more than just angering the fans. By keeping Pace and putting the pressure to “win now” could make him make moves that, while helping in the short-term, might hurt the team in the long-term. Will he give in to the pressure and mortgage the future to acquire big-name talent to save his job?
We see that with the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. The Bears reportedly already called the Houston Texans to inquire on Watson. Watson is unhappy with the Texans’ moves recently and requested a trade. He is the biggest fish in the free agency pond. Because of that, it’ll be expensive to bring him to Chicago.
Of course, making things worse is that Pace and the Bears had the opportunity to draft Watson instead of Trubisky (they also could’ve drafted Pat Mahomes but that’s a whole other story). Now, with Watson among the best quarterbacks in the league (he led the league in passing this season despite losing DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL), the price tag for him is extremely high.
We just saw what happened with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Detroit traded him to the Los Angeles Rams for their 2021 third-round pick, their 2022 and 2023 first-round picks, and Jared Goff. Stafford is a very good quarterback and makes the Rams a Super Bowl contender, but he is 32 years old and has suffered from injuries recently. Watson is 25 years old and in the prime of his career.
The Texans reportedly want an even bigger haul for Watson. This is what John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported on the Texans’ price.
The Rams-Lions trade will have nothing to do with a Watson trade if the Texans do it. They’ll want 2 ones, 2 twos and 2 young defensive starters, at the least.
Pace made a bold move to get Trubisky. Will he make another bold move to go after Watson? If he does, it’ll certainly affect the team’s ability to draft prospects in the future. If he isn’t in “win now” mode, he could trade down and acquire some more draft picks. Pace has a good track record at drafting later in the draft. The problem is that move might not help him now. Additionally, giving up two defensive starters puts a dent in how well the defense performs. Do you want to make Sean Desai’s job more difficult as he begins his new gig?
Pace might want to muddle things so he could save his job. If he achieves that, then he’ll deal with the future later when he has a new deal himself.
Would Watson want to come to Chicago?
Despite being in a great market, would Watson accept a trade to Chicago? What does he think about Nagy’s coaching style? He was supposed to be a quarterback whisperer but he was unable to bring out the best in Trubisky. Furthermore, his offense ranked near the bottom for the past two seasons. They needed a streak of four games in which they scored 30+ points just to finish 22nd in the league in scoring. Yes, Watson could fix a lot of that, but could that result in more victories? The question becomes bigger with the defense down two starters.
Another question is what Watson thinks about getting snubbed by Pace. He, along with many others, question why Pace didn’t show more interest in him. Would that still be on his mind when it comes to accepting a trade to Chicago? He does have a no-trade clause in his contract so he’d have to approve any deal.
Players can be fickle people. They have long memories and use that as motivation. On the other hand, they could let bygones be bygones if it’s a good situation. The question is whether being on the Chicago Bears is a good situation.
That question wouldn’t be a concern if McCaskey hired new people. It would be a fresh start for both the Bears and Watson. Also, a new general manager acquiring Watson would be seen as correcting the mistake Pace made. Pace doing the same seems like a desperate move.
The Chicago Bears standing pat in making changes at the top can come back to haunt them when it comes to acquiring a big-name talent like Watson.