The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away, but this year's proceedings might be slightly different for the Bears and general manager Ryan Poles than last year's affair.
Last season the Bears were still in the middle of a roster teardown. They capped it off at the trade deadline by trading veteran edge rusher Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles and star linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens. The Bears finished off the trade deadline flurry by acquiring wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers for a second-round pick.
For several reasons, the 2023 deadline is unlikely to be that busy for the Bears.
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Yes, the Bears are 2-5 and have a few talented veteran players who could be of interest on the market.
Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who is in a contract year, is the biggest name the Bears could trade should Poles elect to go that route.
However, league sources told NBC Sports Chicago that while the Bears will listen to offers for the cornerback, it is "unlikely" the Bears will trade Johnson. Johnson is in the midst of a stellar season, and the Bears are hoping to come to an agreement on a long-term extension with the 24-year-old corner.
Safety Eddie Jackson suffered a foot injury in Week 2. He returned in Week 6 but left in the first half after re-aggravating it and hasn't returned. Jackson's uncertain long-term future in Chicago would make him a possible trade candidate, but his injured foot almost certainly takes that off the table.
In theory, veteran offensive lineman Cody Whitehair could have value to a contending team looking for depth up front. But Whitehair has struggled this season and was benched in the Bears' loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6. Given that and the Bears' terrible injury luck on the offensive line, Whitehair will probably make it through the deadline without having to pack his suitcase.
That brings us to Darnell Mooney.
Like Johnson, the fourth-year wide receiver is in a contract year and hopes to get a long-term extension done with the Bears.
Mooney would have some value on the trade market, but his value to the Bears' offense is likely greater than whatever menial return he would fetch.
After racking up over 1,000 yards in 2021 under then-head coach Matt Nagy, Mooney has struggled to produce in the Bears' new offensive system. In the past two seasons, Mooney has caught just 54 passes for 677 yards and three touchdowns in 19 games.
Couple that lack of production with the Bears' wide receiver depth questions after the Chase Claypool trade, and it feels doubtful that the Bears will deal Mooney.
Depth, health questions, uneven performance, and asking price are all reasons the Bears are unlikely to make a big move at the deadline.
The fact that the Smith and Quinn trades also notably impacted the 2022 locker room should make Poles a little more cautious before removing one of the key, respected veterans from a young locker room.
There's also a slim chance the Bears become buyers for the future at the deadline, as they did with the Claypool trade a year ago.
Washington edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat are names to watch as potential targets. Either would be a great long-term fit in Chicago, but both are slated to be free agents this coming offseason and likely will want to test the market to get maximum value. That's especially true of Young, who has returned to top form after his knee injury in 2021.
Washington likely will look to retain one of the two edge rushers and want a Bradley Chubb-type return (first-round pick) for the other. That will be too rich for the Bears, especially with a good free-agent class of edge rushers coming up.
Could Poles go back to the wide receiver well with Jerry Jeudy or Marquise Brown? Unless the price comes in at a third-round pick or lower, I don't see any reason for the Bears to dabble in those waters.
Poles surprised with a flurry of late moves prior to last year's deadline, but there are many reasons why this one might be a little quieter around Halas Hall.