What potential Bears trade partners for No. 1 pick are saying at NFL combine

Bears general manager Ryan Poles made it clear that the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft is officially for sale, which should make for some interesting conversations this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Chicago should have no shortage of teams showing interest in moving up for a quarterback, especially in a class that includes Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

Poles even admitted there might be a scenario where the Bears could trade the top pick before free agency begins in less than two weeks. The combine will serve as the stomping ground for these conversations, where teams will be exploring exactly what a trade package would look like to move up and draft the quarterback of their choosing.

Here’s a look at what some of the general managers and head coaches, from those teams that could trade up with the Bears, had to say about their quarterback situation at the combine:

Colts GM Chris Ballard

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Ballard tried to downplay the narrative that the Colts will be looking to trade up with the Bears. He indicated Indianapolis could stay put at No. 4 and let a quarterback fall to them.

“I know this was coming up, because I know all the speculation out there,” he said. “One, to move up, there’s got to be a guy worthy of it. This is what’s great right now: Everybody has just automatically stamped that you’ve got to move up to one to get it right. I don’t know if I agree with that. I don’t. But that’s going to be the narrative, and that’s OK. . . . But I don’t know if that’s the right course of business. When we meet as a staff and we say, ‘OK, this is what we need to do. This is the guy for the next 10 to 15 years,’ and we think he’s the right guy, sure we’ll do it. But who’s to say we won’t get one at four?”

Try as Ballard might — during this time affectionally known as “lying season” — no one’s buying it. Especially with both the Bears and Cardinals open to trading their No. 1 and No. 3, respective, picks to a QB-needy team.

But in what situation would the Colts consider trading up?

“That we were just convicted. That this is no freaking doubt the guy.”

Texans GM Nick Caserio

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Caserio didn’t rule out a potential trade with the Bears to move up on spot. But it’s all about the cost to move up. Although, if it means landing your potential franchise QB for years to come, is the cost ever too much?

“We’ll look at all of that,” Caserio said. “We actually have a trade chart simulator, where you factor in the points and what’s the costs associated with it. I would say it’s twofold. Some teams have an analytically driven chart, here’s what that summation of the numbers is and then you have the Jimmy (Johnson) chart. I think most teams are still using the traditional Jimmy chart as a reference point, but each team has its own sort of model.

“The issue you have is you’re trying to do a trade and their model says one thing and your model says another thing, so we’re speaking two different languages. How do we find a resolution? I think that’s more of an exercise for when we get into April. We’re positioned here. What would it cost to move up one spot? We’re at 12. What would it cost to move up a few spots? What would it cost to move back? We’ll look at all those. Feb. 28 is probably not the time to do that.”

Texans HC DeMeco Ryans

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Ryans couldn’t help but praise Alabama signal caller Bryce Young, who many have pegged as the top quarterback prospect in the draft.

“I know Bryce is an outstanding leader from what I’ve seen, and is an outstanding quarterback. It’s no surprise the success that he’s had. Just because of the makeup, the type of guy that he is, it’s no surprise the success he’s had. Wishing him the best moving forward.”

Raiders GM Dave Ziegler

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The Raiders are in need of a quarterback, and Ziegler said they’re looking to find the perfect match.

“When you’re looking at the desire to win now in a future quarterback, it’s interesting because we’ve seen it go both ways in terms of you draft a young guy and they sit, right? Like, (Patrick) Mahomes sat for a year. And you can go back to when it was probably a little bit more prevalent. I think that even Carson Palmer might have sat for two years.”

Raiders HC Josh McDaniels

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McDaniels stressed the importance of drafting and developing a quarterback, especially when it comes to competing not only in their division but the NFL entirely.

“I think there’s always urgency at that position,” McDaniels said. “The goal for us eventually is to have somebody that’s going to be here for a long time. I think that you see the teams that are having success right now in our league, I would say in our conference, and specifically, in our division, they’re young players that were drafted by their clubs, and they’re being developed there under the same continuity. And so, I think that eventually, yes. Do I think you have to do that if you’re not sure or sold on the player, and now you’re making a mistake just to try and say that you’re trying to solve a problem? I don’t think that’s really a smart decision.

“But the goal, eventually, is to try to have a young player here that’s going to be a Raider for a long time.”

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer

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Fitterer believes the ideal scenario is to draft and develop a quarterback, which has a number of benefits. But it’s about getting in a position to land a top prospect, and the Panthers sit at No. 9.

“In an ideal world, you always wanna draft a quarterback,” Fitterer said. “Draft, develop and have that guy here for five, 10 years. You wanna have that consistency. It helps for many different reasons. The continuity on your roster, for salary cap reasons. There’s so many benefits at drafting and developing. That is the right route to go.

“We’ll see if we can get in a position where we can get one of the guys we like. Is there a guy there in the second round? Can we get up in the first round? Those are all the things we’re exploring right now. But, yes, you’re right. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to look at the veteran route if you can’t do that. But in an ideal world, you do wanna draft.”

Panthers HC Frank Reich

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Reich reiterated Fitterer’s stance that the ideal scenario involves drafting and developing a quarterback rather than going the veteran route, something his former organization, the Colts, did and failed.

“You always want to draft a quarterback,” Reich said. “Draft, develop, and then have that guy here for five or 10 years. You want to have that consistency; it helps for many different reasons, the continuity on your roster, for salary cap reasons — there’s so many benefits to drafting and developing.

“We’ll see if we can get in a position where we get one of the guys we like. Is there a guy there in the second round? Is it can we get up in the first round? Those are all the things we’re exploring right now. But yes, you’re right. I don’t think it’s wrong to necessarily look at the veteran route if you can’t do that, but in an ideal world, you do want to draft (your quarterback).”

Seahawks HC Pete Carroll

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Carroll made waves with comments that the Seahawks are showing interest in this class of quarterbacks, even with free-agent-to-be Geno Smith coming off an impressive year.

“The position that we are in, we are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out,” Carroll said. “This is a really huge opportunity for us. It’s a rare opportunity for us. We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time, you just don’t get the chance for these guys. So we’re deeply involved with all of them.”

Falcons GM Terry Fontenot

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After the Falcons released Marcus Mariota, Fontenot remained noncommittal when it comes to naming a starting quarterback entering the offseason — and he insisted they’re not done adding to the QB room.

“Desmond (Ridder) has done some good things, and we know he’s going to continue to improve this offseason, and we’re going to continue to add to the position, whether it’s free agency, the draft, or both,” said Fontenot.

“We’ve talked about the quarterback position and how we want to make sure we continue to add to that position, and we want to keep bringing players in. Really excited about Desmond, and yet we’re going to add to the position.”

Titans GM Ran Carthon

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While many thought the Titans would be a candidate to trade up to acquire a quarterback, Carthon came out and said the Titans are open to trading back.

“We’re always open for business,” Carthon said. “All the guys, you’ve got my number. Call me. It’s always about being open to trying to continue to add value. We’ll listen and field every call and see what comes from it.”

Titans HC Mike Vrabel

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Vrabel was asked if the Titans would be open to drafting a quarterback in this year’s draft.

“I am going to say this for every player: I am open to adding great players to our roster, whether that’s at quarterback, that’s at running back, that’s at defensive line, corner,” Vrabel said. “I do believe that we have some needs and some holes. I’ve asked (scouts) to look for players who have an element of speed, violence and versatility. … Look for offensive linemen that can protect the quarterback, whether that’s Ryan (Tannehill), whether that’s Malik (Willis), whether that’s Josh Dobbs, whoever that might end up being. Those are things we have to do a better job at.”

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire