April 29, 2011
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A miscommunication on a potential first-round trade between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens forced the Ravens to miss their pick and left the team's front office seething and seeking the Bears' fourth-round draft pick anyway. It all worked out in the end, though.
Peter King explains:
Chicago, picking 29th, and Baltimore, at 26, finalized a trade that would have had them switch slots, with the Ravens getting the Bears' fourth-round pick in return. Chicago would take Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi(notes), and the Ravens, if Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith(notes) was still on the board, would take Smith at 29. With two minutes left in the Ravens' period, the deal was done. Under NFL rules, each team has to report the trade to NFL draft headquarters at Radio City Music Hall. The Ravens called it in. They assumed Chicago called it in, but due to a miscommunication in the Bears draft room, no one from Chicago ever called the league.
Due to the confusion, time ran out on the Ravens pick and the Kansas City Chiefs jumped in to make their pick to select Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The Ravens, now at No. 27 instead of where they started (No. 26) or where they wanted to be (No. 29), then picked Smith, their intended target. Two picks later, the Bears got Carimi. Each of the franchises involved got the player they wanted, just not in the order it expected to get them or, in the case of the Ravens, with the additional fourth-round pick that would supposed to accompany it.
The team asked the NFL to award the pick despite the lack of official trade. The request was denied.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo took the blame for the mistake. "It was our fault," he told reporters. "They did everything according to the rules."
His Ravens counterpart, Ozzie Newsome, was pleased he still got Smith. "There was a potential for us to lose it, yes," he told reporters. "But we got the player, and we're just happy to have him."
When does a trade become official? Is it when the verbal handshake is made over the phone or when both teams call it in to the league office? After the events of Thursday night, it's clear that the answer is the latter, thus making the Bears' inaction unfortunate (and perhaps ethically dubious), not illegal.
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