Usually, teams at the trade deadline are either buyers (teams in playoff contention looking to fill those few final holes) or sellers (teams out of the race looking to stack draft picks for the future). In the case of Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles, Tuesday’s trade with the Washington Commanders for the services of edge-rusher Montez Sweat for a 2023 second-round pick is a mixed message.
The Bears currently stand at 2-6, and even when Justin Fields returns from his thumb injury, there’s no guarantee that this team can get anywhere near the playoff hunt. Now, there’s no denying that Sweat, who Washington selected with the 26th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Mississippi State, is a superlative player at a position the Bears desperately need. This season, Sweat has eight sacks, four quarterback hits, and 15 quarterback hurries this season. Those 27 total pressures make him the most productive quarterback disruptor in his new defense — Yannick Ngakoue has 22 quarterback pressures, and Demarcus Robertson has 21.
And Sweat’s tape against the league’s best offensive linemen is entirely legit — his sack and four total pressures last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles came primarily against right tackle Lane Johnson, the gold standard at his position.
Johnson hops as quickly as possible into his stance to stay square against Sweat's wide-9 alignment, and it works… until it doesn't. pic.twitter.com/dAXY6HA6C9
— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) October 31, 2023
So, the immediate on-field benefits are clear. The long-term ramifications are stickier. Sweat is in the final year of his rookie deal, and though the Bears might be able to sign him to an extension, if they can’t for whatever reason, you have a situation in which a team in desperate need of a rebuild just gave away a high pick (37th overall at this point) for a player who will not be a part of that process.
So, yes — if the Bears have some sort of tacit agreement in place for Sweat’s future, this is a wise move. But if not? Poles is putting himself out there in ways he really shouldn’t.