The trade rumors swirled again and again, and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler didn’t have to be in Nashville, Tennessee, this time to hear them.
Marcus Mariota? The Tennessee Titans’ No. 2 pick? The Bears?
Instead, the Bears made a big move in support of Cutler, selecting West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White with the seventh overall pick Thursday at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.
‘‘In my mind, we just got Jay another dynamic weapon,’’ general manager Ryan Pace said at Halas Hall. ‘‘That’s why I’m excited about it. I hope right now he’s fired up because we just gave him another powerful weapon. With this receiving corps, this only adds to Jay’s ability to distribute the ball.’’
The move marked Pace’s biggest backing of Cutler yet: another big receiver — White is 6-3 and 215 pounds — to go with Alshon Jeffery.
Before Thursday, Pace and coach John Fox’s public support for Cutler had been lukewarm at best. Even the signing of receiver Eddie Royal seemed to fall short of a true endorsement of Cutler, despite the time Cutler and Royal spent together with the Denver Broncos.
It turns out Cutler wasn’t lying when he said this week that all his interactions with Pace, Fox, offensive coordinator Adam Gase and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains have been positive.
‘‘It’s a joy to work with these guys right now,’’ Cutler said.
So defense will wait. Despite a long list of defensive needs and a 3-4 scheme to build, the Bears passed on some good players. Clemson linebacker Vic Beasley (Atlanta Falcons, No. 8), Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (Minnesota Vikings, No. 11) and Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton (Cleveland Browns, No. 12) came off the board soon after White.
‘‘The defensive side of the football obviously comes to mind, but I think you have a little bit of confidence with the head coach and defensive coordinator that you’re bringing in there that you can cover up some of that stuff,’’ said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles. “The personnel may not be quite as bad as you think. You can cover some of that stuff up [with coaching].’’
The Bears were going to stick to their grades, and White was their top player when they were put on the clock. Pace said he had envisioned this scenario playing out and was ecstatic to see it click.
‘‘For us, it was an easy decision with Kevin White,’’ Pace said. ‘‘Trust me, there was a lot of fist-bumping.’’
It’s not easy earning Cutler’s trust. But White can turn to the receiver he’s literally replacing for advice –- Brandon Marshall, whom he befriended during training.
White, who had 109 catches, 1,447 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last year for West Virginia, also shares an agent with Jeffery. Royal and third-year receiver Marquess Wilson also can provide pointers.
White, of course, hopes the Bears throw a lot.
“I know [Cutler is] a great competitor,” White said. “I know he hates losing, just like myself. He’s a great quarterback. He’s been doing it for a long time. He’ll give you a chance downfield.”