If Ryan Pace specialized in throwing horseshoes or hand grenades, he’d be taking a victory lap Wednesday. But because he’s the general manager of a franchise that hasn’t had a star quarterback in 71 years, Pace once again found himself the target of Bears fans who’d allowed themselves to dream.
The Bears agreed to terms with Andy Dalton on a one-year, $10 million deal only after Pace was unable to convince the Sea-hawks to give up future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson, who had grown frustrated with being constantly planted in the dirt like a tulip bulb.
Wednesday, the Bears wanted the world, and probably Wilson himself, to know that they tried. Talk maven Dan Patrick, to whom Wilson explained his frustration earlier this offseason, detailed Pace’s “Godfather” offer: three first-round picks, a third-rounder and two players for Wilson.
That’s Herschel Walker trade territory. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks were among the players the Seahawks could have chosen from the Bears’ list, NFL Network reported, but the Bears lacked high-level talent on rookie contracts to deal. Their Round 1 draft picks wouldn’t have been high enough to guarantee a rookie quarterback.
Pace and Seattle general manager John Schneider both attended North Dakota State’s pro day Friday; but coach Pete Carroll nixed any deal, the NFL Network reported.
What now? The offer informs what the Bears’ next step could be:
—- If the Bears circle back and try to trade for Wilson again — be it next month or next year — the Seahawks absolutely can’t accept any less than what they just turned down. The Seahawks would eat $39 million in dead cap money if they move him before June 1. A 2021 trade seems unlikely, but falls just short of impossible, depending on whether the Seahawks give Wilson the control, and blocking, he desires.
—- Pace isn’t afraid to mortgage the future if given the chance to land a quarterback, be it the Texans’ Deshaun Watson — whose future might be complicated by recent sexual assault allegations — or someone else. The Bears will be tied to every unhappy, half-decent starter in the league as long as Dalton and Nick Foles are the only quarterbacks on their roster. Foles might not be for much longer, either — after relegating Foles to a backup role with the Dalton trade, the Bears could try to deal him by Saturday, when his $4 million roster bonus is due.
—- The Bears are candidates to move up in the draft to select a quarterback they like in late April. It will cost them their first-round pick next year, at least, to move up 10 spots from No. 20 — the Texans traded the same to move from No. 25 to 12 to pick Watson in 2017 — but that’s still cheaper than what they offered for Wilson.
Even with Dalton in place, Pace isn’t done surveying the quarterback landscape. He and coach Matt Nagy began that discussion in early January and focused their attention on Wilson after his agent gave a four-team list of preferred destinations Feb. 25.
The Bears dangled their line in the water to try to lure the biggest fish.
But what’s the old line about mistaking activity for achievement? The Bears trying — and failing — to land Wilson should not be interpreted as noble. Pace merely tried to dig out of the hole he fell into when he signed Mike Glennon and traded for Mitch Trubisky in 2017. Trading for Foles last year didn’t vault him out of the hole, either.
It was as if Pace sold his house at the wrong time, walked down the street and offered the owner of a mansion far above the Zillow price, only to be told to hit the bricks.
It takes two to swing a deal, no matter how desperate the buyer might be.