Price must be cheap for Oliver trade to fit Bears' rebuild strategy


General manager Ryan Poles said it himself during his press conference following the Bears' opening flurry of free agency.

"I know right now you get the sense that we gotta fix everything right now, and the options are going to be limited, but I feel comfortable between the rest of free agency -- we're only two days into it -- as well as in the draft that we can get that group as good as we possibly can," Poles said when asked about the Bears' thin defensive line. "And at the same time, there are going to be some weak spots on our roster that we can't fix everything, but we are going to stay flexible to do the best we can to get better." 

Poles knows he can't fix everything right now. He plans to be patient and build this roster the "right way." To him, that means primarily building through the draft.

If taking the long rebuild route is indeed the plan, and there's no evidence to the contrary, the Ed Oliver trade speculation -- fueled by cryptic social media posts from Oliver -- makes little sense for the Bears.

A few things can be true.

Oliver is a good 25-year-old defensive tackle who would fill a big hole in the Bears' defense. Head coach Matt Eberflus has detailed how important a disruptive three-technique is to his defense ad nauseam over the past year.

That's the "engine" of his defense. But Oliver isn't a complete game wrecker. Or, at least, he hasn't been to this point in his career in Buffalo.

This past season, Oliver ranked 30th in total pressures among defensive tackles with at least 310 pass-rush snaps with 31, per Pro Football Focus. He tied for 26th in sacks at four. When looking at pressures against true pass sets, Oliver ranked 31st in pressures (21) and 19 in sacks (four).

That's not to mention that one-third of Oliver's pressure last season came in one game when he mauled a beat-up Minnesota Vikings offensive line for 10 pressures.

Oliver is also entering the final year of his rookie contract and is looking for a big extension.

None of that sounds like a great fit for the Bears at this stage of their rebuild.

Could Oliver take off in Eberflus' defense in the same way the Bears hope linebacker Tremaine Edmunds turns into a turnover machine worthy of the four-year, $72 million contract they gave him? It's possible.

But the idea that the Bears might trade the No. 9 overall pick to the Buffalo Bills for Oliver, the No. 27 overall pick, and some extra draft capital doesn't fit Poles' rebuilding blueprint.

The Bears would be much better served using the No. 9 pick on a top-level offensive tackle or Georgia's Jalen Carter.

Now, if the Buffalo Bills are trying to clear cap space and the price for Oliver is a Day 2 or Day 3 pick, then the Bears can jump in with two feet.

But the low pressure numbers and likely contract demand don't equal the value of a top-10 pick.

RELATED: Fields attracting free agents shows QB can accelerate rebuild

Oliver is a good defensive tackle. He'd certainly elevate a unit that couldn't breathe on the quarterback last season. But he's not the complete game-wrecker Eberflus needs, nor is he worth the opportunity cost of passing on Carter, Paris Johnson Jr., or another top prospect at No. 9.

"You go from a short-term thinking of we gotta do everything right now, you extend that out and do things the right way, over time we'll be able to heal up all of those positions," Poles said.

The healing will come. But if Ed Oliver is a part of it, it shouldn't have anything to do with the No. 9 pick.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us