NFL rumor: Bears trade No. 9 pick to Steelers, who draft Jalen Carter

King's 'best rumor': Bears trade No. 9 pick to Steelers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Jalen Carter could be the player who creates a serious inflection point for the Bears in the 2023 NFL Draft. Carter has recently been linked to the Bears, with Matt Miller recently reporting that they “value him highly,” in a recent report for ESPN. On Monday, Peter King said the Bears aren’t alone in valuing Carter, and suggested that if Carter falls to No. 9, another team will pick up the phone to try to switch spots with the Bears to draft him.

“Best rumor of the week: Steelers trading up from 17 to nine if Carter’s there,” King wrote in Monday’s “Football Morning in America” column. “There could not be a more perfect coach for Carter than Mike Tomlin.”

Given Carter’s character questions, conventional thinking says he’ll need a disciplined program and a locker room filled with vets and leaders to help him make the transition to the NFL, and stay out of trouble. The Bears certainly have the first, but that last bit is lacking. On the defensive side of the ball, Robert Quinn is gone. So is Roquan Smith. Those two were the leaders every player looked to in the locker room. Eddie Jackson has done a great job stepping up to be a new leader, but as a safety, he couldn’t be farther away from Carter on the field, and wouldn’t be with him for positional drills and meetings.

Poles admitted as much when he spoke to reporters during the owners meetings last month.

“We’re still young and impressionable,” Poles said. “So I think making sure that we continue to bring a good core group in is important. Maybe down the road you want to take a risk like that, I think the locker room begins to run itself so you can take some chances. But right now we need both, we need talent, but at the same time I’m still going to be a little bit cautious of bringing in the wrong type of person.”

The Steelers trade rumor that’s been floated around social media is a tantalizing offer: The Bears send the Steelers the Nos. 9 and 64 picks in exchange for Nos. 17 and 32 (the pick they sent to Pittsburgh for Chase Claypool) plus a day three pick. But would it be enough for the Bears to pass on a guy who many peg as the most talented player in this year’s draft class, who would fill one of the most important roles on the team?

According to King, there’s a good chance we’ll never find out.

“An increasing number of people around the league think Jalen Carter has done enough in his visits to not sink like a stone on draft night,” King wrote. “It’s become almost a cliché, how many team officials think the Seahawks will take Carter with the fifth overall pick.”

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