The Bears' only option was to do nothing at NFL trade deadline


A failure to meet expectations naturally produces expectations for change within a fanbase. It’s entirely fair, and is why we’ve seen plenty of questions and discussions about who the 3-4 Bears could try to add before the NFL’s trade deadline, which passed at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. 

But the trade window slammed shut without Bears making any moves. And it was the only option Ryan Pace and this team had. 

Pace’s aggressive moves to build this roster over the last four years meant the Bears did not have much ammunition left in late October of 2019. Acquiring Khalil Mack was the biggest splash move, and has been a rousing success. But Mack cost two first-round draft picks and signed the richest contract ever given to a defensive player. He’s worth it, even if it meant your dream of the Bears trading for a big name player before Tuesday afternoon wasn’t realistic. 

Draft day trades to snag Anthony Miller and David Montgomery, too, left the Bears with a dearth of picks. Had the team traded its 2020 fifth round pick, for example, it wouldn’t have a selection between the second and sixth rounds next April. 

So, no, the Bears were never going to blow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers away to trade for underutilized former first-round tight end O.J. Howard. There's a reason why hope for a frenzy of trades before the deadline didn't materialize. 

Also: Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Andy Dalton were never available anyway, so it’s not even worth discussing why neither made sense to acquire before Tuesday. At best, Pace maybe could've shipped a sixth or seventh-round pick for a player, but whoever that is, he wouldn't be a fix for a team that's not one player away from jumping back into the NFC playoff picture. 

And for at team that’s close to being up against the salary cap next year, Pace needs those draft picks to build a contending roster in 2020. There has to be a longer view taken here instead of a panicked move to fix the current roster. 

So for now, the Bears will ride out 2019 with the roster that’s got them to 3-4 through Week 8. There wasn’t another option that wouldn’t have kneecapped this team’s chances of contending in 2020. 

That may not be especially comforting with the Bears in the throes of a three-game losing streak, one which’s dropped their playoff odds to 4.9 percent, per Football Outsiders. 

But all the Bears can do is hope this roster, collectively, re-discovers the form that produced a 12-4 record and NFC North title a year ago. And if it doesn’t?

We’ll learn a lot over the next nine weeks, then, about who will be back in 2020 and who will not.

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