Bears conclude 2022 season with a win — in draft position, that is
Somebody posed to me the question, “Is it a good thing the Bears got the first overall pick in next year’s draft?” following the Bears’ season-ending loss to the Vikings on Sunday, and in the aftermath of the Texans’ exciting comeback win over the Colts.
I don’t think the question was meant philosophically, but one could take it that way.
If the question is taken at face value, yes, I would much rather the Bears have the first overall pick in the draft than the second. In that case, it is a very good thing that the Bears earned the first overall pick.
Philosophically speaking, I’d much rather the Bears have the 32nd pick in the draft than the first, because this would obviously mean that they’re coming off a Super Bowl victory.
Thanks to former Bears head coach Lovie Smith’s Texans defeating the Colts, the Bears moved up the draft board from 2 to 1, which does not sound like much, but carries with it immense value.
Now the Bears own the most coveted pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They also have the most projected cap space of any team in the league. And they — arguably — have the most important position in sports filled with Justin Fields taking some big strides at quarterback this season.
To put it another way: the Bears have a treasure trove of assets at their disposal and they don’t have to waste their time fixing one of the most difficult positions to fix.
General manager Ryan Poles is going to have some fun this offseason, and Bears fans will be clicking, scrolling, and refreshing as they anxiously await to hear each new player acquisition.
Now, this all presumes that Poles is sold on Fields as the answer at the quarterback position. A lot of scouts and personnel guys will say that some of the quarterbacks at the top of this year’s draft class could be better than Fields. Does Poles agree? And if so, would he trade Fields for assets and take a chance on a rookie?
The problem with that scenario is that the Bears are guaranteed to be rebuilding again next season, and maybe the season beyond that as a new young quarterback learns to play at the next level. Plus, there are no guarantees in the draft, even at Pick 1. It’s better to roll with the player you do know rather than risking everything on the player you don’t.
I think the better track for the Bears to take would be to shop around the first pick and see which quarterback-desperate team is willing to give up the most to move up to the top of the draft to get their choice of rookie quarterbacks.
The Bears can accumulate more draft picks to bring in more prospects — because there are an awful lot of holes to fill on this roster. They can use their boatload of cash — wisely — to bring in key veteran pieces to help turn this thing around.
You never want to dish out bloated contracts to high-priced veteran free agents because those can be cap-killers and leave you deficient in various places. Plus, Poles just spent this season fixing the Bears’ cap mess. So, I’d much rather the Bears dole out handfuls of contracts to second-tier players who can upgrade the roster across the board, rather than splurging on a few key players that leave problem areas elsewhere.
When reflecting on the 2022 season, it’s quite amazing how quickly Bears Nation is ready to turn the page. Sure, there might be some diehards out there, especially of the older variety who might not have many more Bears seasons left in them, who are discouraged about this pitiful, on-field display. But I think by far the majority of Bears fans have already forgotten what happened this season and are eagerly awaiting March and April when new players will be acquired.
It’s going to be a fun offseason — can’t wait.