Emma: Bears making a notable trade ahead of deadline was always a long shot


(670 The Score) In theory, it would've made sense for the Bears to ship out a veteran player in return for draft capital ahead of the NFL trade deadline Tuesday afternoon and turn their attention beyond this season. But that doesn’t fit the direction of management.

The Bears stood pat as the 3 p.m. CT trade deadline passed Tuesday. They didn't trade any players away in an effort to restock their limited draft capital for 2022, nor did they aggressively make an addition to fortify their roster for this season. Currently four games back of the first-place Packers (7-1) in the NFC North, the Bears (3-5) remain committed to competing with what they have on their current roster.

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A trade of a player like receiver Allen Robinson, tight end Jimmy Graham or defensive lineman Akiem Hicks may have made sense for the Bears, who aren't on a playoff trajectory and don’t hold a first- or fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft. But by previously mandating that the Bears need to showcase progress this season, ownership essentially challenged general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy to save their jobs in 2021.

In his seventh year with the Bears, Pace would've decreased whatever dwindling chance his team has at making the playoffs if he had dealt a key player. In his fourth season in Chicago, Nagy would've struggled to maintain the buy-in of his locker room if it seemed the white flag was being waved.

Trading a player with the esteem of Robinson, Graham or Hicks would've taken a toll on the Bears that goes beyond performance. For Nagy, keeping his team together is already enough of a challenge with Chicago mired in a three-game losing streak.

As the Bears’ top football executive, Pace has the autonomy to prioritize this 2021 season over the future, even amid the team's current struggles. The odd dynamic was created by chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips, who opted to retain Pace and Nagy after the 2020 season despite the two failing to produce a playoff victory in their respective tenures.

While McCaskey was vague last January when asked to define the “progress” that would save the jobs of Pace and Nagy, it’s hard to envision any semblance of true improvement for the Bears from 2020 to 2021. The Bears would need to win six of their final nine games to top their 8-8 mark in the 2020 regular season – and a 9-8 record in the new 17-game regular season still might not be enough to make the playoffs.

The Bears didn't declare a direction as the trade deadline passed Tuesday, but come early January, it might be more clear what the Bears have in store for the future.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.