Bears-Ravens trade snafu cries out for a rules change


Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports recently took a closer look at the failed trade that would have allowed the Bears to move from No. 29 in the draft to No. 26, with the Ravens sliding down.  The Bears failed to call the trade in to the league, a development they characterize as a “mistake.”

The Ravens wanted the fourth-round pick that the Bears had agreed to send to Baltimore, especially since the Bears still got the guy they were supposedly targeting — offensive lineman Gabe Carimi.  The league refused to force the Bears to do it, pointing out that there’s no rule for the situation.  The Bears declined to do anything voluntarily, and the case was closed.

Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo remains defiant that he owes the Ravens nothing.  “The only thing I am going to say is they have rules when you do something wrong,” Angelo said, per Cole.  “Not when people make mistakes.  A mistake was made.  No rule was broken, OK, so let’s just make that clear here.  As I said [last Thursday] night, we made the proper amends from our part and certainly there was no intent other than to do the best we could and it just didn’t work out.”

Angelo’s remarks don’t accurately explain the concept of following rules.  Yes, in many cases intent is a key component of the violation.  In plenty of other situations, however, a mistaken violation is still a violation.  If Angelo wants clear proof of this, he should mistakenly forget to pay his taxes.

An unnamed NFC team exec agrees with that concept.  “I like Jerry, but what he said is BS,” the executive told Cole.  “If you gave me your word and didn’t even call the league or didn’t call me back in time to fix the situation, that’s wrong. Dead wrong.  You should pay some penalty. I don’t know what it is, but something. I think Baltimore should have gotten the [fourth-round] pick.

“Again, this is a high-pressure situation.  You can’t just say, ‘Oh, no harm, no foul.’  That could be my job on the line.”

The easy and obvious fix, as Cole points out and as Angelo’s remarks confirm, would be to change the rules.  It’s the way the NFL typically operates whenever something happens for which there isn’t a rule.  Though, ideally, the NFL would do a better job of anticipating potential problems, the best alternative would be to react to actual situations that arise and prevent them from happening in the future.

With the league slashing the available time to make a first-round pick from 15 minutes to 10, it should have been obvious that something like this could happen.  There are a lot of moving parts when a trade is being made while a team is on the clock, which is the ideal time for doing a deal so that the team moving up has a clear shot at the player that team covets.  At some point, the team on the clock needs to know with certainty whether or not a deal was done.

If the league isn’t willing to require a team to do the right thing when its obvious and admitted failure to call the trade in to the league prevented the trade from happening, the league needs to create a system for declaring definitively that a trade did or didn’t happen.

How about a one-minute warning, at which point the team on the clock is told that there’s no deal and that the team on the clock must use the pick or risk being leapfrogged?  That way, the league would never have to punish a team for failing to call in the trade, and no team on the clock would ever have to assume that the call was made only to find out later that it wasn’t.

34 responses to “Bears-Ravens trade snafu cries out for a rules change

  1. I am crying for a rule change in idiot news reporting…
    You should only report the news and keep your liberal slants where they belong….between your but cheeks.

  2. My mom used to do this so I could save my video game before bed. Then I turned 10 and she didn’t have to anymore.

  3. The Ravens are still crying about this? You don’t hear the Broncos crying about getting Brady Quinn for Peyton Hillis. Let it go, man.

  4. How about at next year’s draft the league forces the Bears table to display a sign “Beware of Angelo”.

    Of course Jerry doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He’s had a front row seat to the Chicago political machine that never thinks it’s done anything wrong.

  5. Or better yet have a league official listen to the negotiating and when a deal is struck he is there to hear it. No additional phone calls need to be made.

  6. I agree the rules needed to be changed. But how about we move the technology from the 70’s to the at least the 2000’s. I mean, they use faxes and don’t even have 3 way calling. I am surprised they don’t have to use smoke signals to get there deals done. Ozzie had to put his cell phone up to the phone he was using with Jerry. We are in 2011 and they don’t even have conference calling? With the billions of dollars they make every year, you would think they would have something more advance then having the teams call in their trades and waiting for the other teams to call in their trade.

  7. Intentional or not, what the Bears did was wrong. There are ridiculous rules throughout the NFL so making one for this kind of situation seems appropriate. Change the procedure or make consequences seem clear.

  8. All this means is the Bears will have a more difficult time finding trading partners in the future.

    Dealing with an incompetent franchise is one thing … but when the powers that be are both lazy and incompetent, it’s going to make it difficult for anyone to take them at their word.

    Couldn’t get the phone call made in 10 minutes when you’ve got the number on speed dial? What – still hibernating?

  9. Isn’t it obvious what happened? Baltimore didn’t “complete the process” of finalizing the trade, they only had two hands on the phone, one foot on the desk and one ass in a seat. According to the rule book, they didn’t complete the process.

    Good to know Chicago has robbed another team, how are they getting so lucky?

  10. What needs to happen is that all interactions between teams when making trades should be monitored by someone from the league, and recorded. Why leave it between the two teams and rely on each of them to call the league to confirm that they made a trade. This way someone from the league has listened to the terms of a trade and hears both sides agree and the deal is sealed right then and there. By continuing to allow teams to do this independently, independent of a league official monitoring the deal, you open the door for sleazeballs like Angelo, or Polian or Snyder or Jones or Davis or a number of others to lie and say they had a deal or refuse to report a deal. These “men” have proven time and again that they can’t be trusted. There is no honor amongst thieves.

  11. This is a multi-billion dollar industry using the same technology teams had for the first NFL draft. The only difference is the use of cell phones. Three suggestions.

    1. Following up on bzig12’s comments, use conference calling and require that a league official be part of the conference when trades are finalized while the draft is in progress. This would eliminate the “he said-he said” aspect of these stories and would make league notification automatic.

    2. If #1 is unacceptable, make the draft like a game. An offensive lineman must report to the referee that he is eligible. Teams making trades must have a rep at the draft who reports trades to a league official at the draft, and all teams that are part of a trade must report before the deadline (perhaps one minute before the pick is due). This would create transparency because the teams involved in the trade could immediately verify whether the other team, or teams, had reported. The media would love this because they could keep tabs on likely trades my monitoring the league official responsible for trades at the draft.

    3. Since there is so much secrecy in the NFL, neither #1 nor #2 is likely. So, go back to 15 minutes between picks and keep your fingers crossed. And don’t negotiate trades with Angelo.

  12. If I remember correctly from years back when it was Newsome who did the same thing to the Vikings, the problem was that it’s up to the GM of the team trading up to turn a trade in to the league and the other team has no way of knowing if that actually took place. As Newsome so poetically put it: “A trade ain’t a trade till I turn it in to the league office.”

    Perhaps the league simply needs a confirmation of some sort to the other team? That way they would know whether or not the agreed upon trade was ever turned in.

    Regardless, if Newsome is going to keep insisting that the Bears give the Ravens their 4th round pick, then Newsome should be happy to go ahead and give the Vikings the Ravens 3rd round pick in 2012 as compensation for the mistake he made a few years ago, costing the Vikings two draft spots in the first round.

    Somehow I think his idea of fairness might not be so acute if presented with that scenario.

  13. Can’t we just move past this already? Angelo is a fool. He reneged. Game over. Next article please.

  14. Correction: Newsome said: “The deal was not consummated. A deal is not a deal until I talk to Joe Bussert, and I never talked to Joe Bussert!”

    The Vikings should have received the Ravens 4th and 6th round picks. Newsome agreed to the trade and the Vikings turned it in. Newsome (just like Angello in this case) forgot to call it in. So, I fully expect Newsome to give the Vikings the Ravens 4th and 6th round selections in the 2012 draft if he keeps insisting on getting the Bears 4th round pick.

  15. I hear CBS Sports, Yahoo, and ESPN all have fantasy football draft programs. Pretty pathetic the NFL can’t use a similar system when millions of their fans are already using a newer/better technology to have fantasy drafts.

  16. If it had been the Patriots or the Steelers, Goodell would have made the Bears give up 2 picks.

  17. When do we as “laypeople” get “asked” to stand up and help out the GMs of multi-billion dollar organizations?

    When the GM gets “taken” and has egg on his face in a very high stakes game of “poker” where everyone on every team has been telling nothing but lies to each other for the past two months leading up to the big game. (the draft)

    The GM with egg on his face quickly spins the story to wash the blame from himself.


    Every team knows the rules. Play by the rules and anticipate others taking advantage of you so they have a better chance to get the player they want.

    Under the current rules…..Just hand in your pick as your time expires. If there wasn’t a trade you get your guy.

    If there was a trade the NFL will tell you “what the &%#$ are you doing…you traded that pick to another team already and they made the pick”

    If there wasn’t a trade then you get the guy you want.

    When making a trade with your enemy why on earth would you simply trust the other guy?

    Trust AND Verify.

    If you can’t Verify then don’t trust unless you have a backup plan. When the other team who has been lying to you and every other team with EVERY WORD coming out of their mouths leading up to the draft and has every reason to lie to you right now also so they have a much better chance to get the guy they want without having to give up anything….why the heck would you believe them.

    This is not a nice little family game where everyone is playing with the purpose of building stronger family bonds.

    This is the NFL. Everything one team does to the other within the current rules is 100% acceptable. (Backyard game of football….”hey my shoe is untied can we wait to hike the ball….sure”…..NFL “his shoe is untied…hike the ball NOW”.

    This is nothing at all like your illustration of not paying your taxes. There are SPECIFIC rules and penalties for “forgetting” to pay your taxes.

    Ozzie… may look good, sound good and have spun your story to get almost everyone to not see the egg on your face. That doesn’t mean the egg is gone. It only means most people don’t see it. On this part of your job you are a master. Very nice.

    If only you had done as good initially you wouldn’t have had to do this.

    The Bears stink at the public relations game (Jay Cutler…..Draft) but in this case they beat the league where it counts. They got their guy by creating confusion and having other teams turn in their picks extra fast (so trades would be less likely) and thus get the guy they want.

    I hate the Bears. I really don’t like the Ravens.

    But….in this case they pulled a fast one on the great Ozzie.

    Hats off to the Bears.

  18. @norsedrew

    So your saying hats off to pulling a fast one on another GM? I dont understand. True, Ozzie should have submitted his pick, yes he made the mistake whether a trade was intended or not. However, why is it hats off to a botched trade???

  19. No doubt Angelo is a doofus, but come on, why in hell would any GM willlingly give up a 4th round pick if they didn’t have to? I doubt most fans would feel much different than Bears fans if their teams did the same thing. Besides, both teams got the players they wanted in the first round anyhow.

  20. The bears did nothing wrong. I asked rod bladjgoavich (spellcheck!!!) and he told me that angelo was totally innocent. roddy b. would never lie, he’s from illinois!

  21. @zn0rseman

    This has been noted several times over the past few weeks but I will say it again. The big difference between what happened in 03 and what happened this year is that this year the Bears never even tried to call the trade in. In 03, the Ravens tried to phone the trade in but the line was busy. It was speculated that the Jaguars, who had also been on the phone trying to trade with the Vikings, were told that the pick was going to be traded to the Ravens and they called and jammed the league line to prevent the trade from becoming official. The league only had 1 phone line to call in trades. After that draft they added several more to prevent that from happening. That snafu was on the league, not the Vikings OR Ravens. This one is on the Bears and the Bears ONLY. And to add insult to injury, the Bears flat out lied and told the Ravens staff that they had called it in when they hadn’t.

    Anyway, I don’t think the people who are suggesting a league official should listen in on all trades really understand just how many calls teams get about trades when they are on the clock. In the end, you only see the trade that gets reported or that the team decided to use that pick but in that 10 minute span teams get a lot of offers. The Ravens had 2 or 3 other calls alone when they were on the clock in this past draft. Trades would never get done if every time you wanted to start trade talks you had to call the league first.

  22. @thelongestgoodbye

    It wasn’t a “botched” trade in my opinion.

    I think the Bears planned it and the Ravens fell for it. The Bears simply said “sorry”.

    And yes, I think it’s hats off to any GM who successfully pulls the wool over another GMs eyes.

    This is their job.

    The best QB’s in the league are fantastic at long hard snap counts. Pretending to hike the ball but really only wanting the defense to jump offsides and get some “free” yardage.

    The players on defense can cry all they want about how the QB said one thing at the line of scrimmage but then didn’t follow through.

    another illustration….

    Championship game….Ray Lewis sacks Peyton Manning and tells him that he is going to call a timeout on the next play when there is only 1 second left on the 40 second play clock to ice the Colts kicker who will need to make the 45 yarder to win the game and go send the Colts to the superbowl. So, Peyton tells his coach on the sideline of the plan that Ray Lewis told him on the last play. The coach tells his kicker to plan on being “iced”.

    Kicker tells the holder who then decides for some stupid reason not to ask the center to snap the ball as the clock ticks down as he “knows for sure” what the Ray is planning to do because Ray Lewis told Peyton his plan.

    The clock expires. Ray Lewis is standing right next to a Ref and had his hands together just about to call the timeout BUT….low and behold he doesn’t call the timeout and the clock expires.

    The officials give the Colts a penalty for not snapping the ball before the clock expired.

    Now the Colts are backed up and it makes the Field Goal longer and harder to make. (Maybe they still make the FG and win the game….maybe they miss it now as it’s further away…doesn’t really matter)

    Honestly folks…..Who would we be calling the idiots. Can you imagine Peyton Manning blaming Ray Lewis after the game. It doesn’t matter what they thought Lewis was going to do. The Colts needed to take care of their OWN business. Snap the ball if a timeout has not officially been called. (Actually most teams go through with the kick anyway if it’s down to the last second regardless of if they see the other team call the timeout, just in case).

    Ray Lewis can say whatever he wants to say after the game. “I did it on purpose”, “I’m sorry”, etc…. The end result is that the Colts would be FOOLS to simply sit back and wait and then cry for a penalty cuz Ray “lied” to them.

    This crazy system based in the stone ages is the system that the powers that be in the NFL want. It would be very easy to change. They haven’t changed it.

    Ozzie knew the system before this draft. He knew exactly what could happen. (especially since the Ravens were part of a draft mess up that was similar but not the same some years back).

    I think it’s particularly funny that the “village idiot” (Mike Tice–former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings when it was the Vikings looking like idiots and the Ravens looking smart) is now with the Chicago Bears. (nobody is really pulling on that thread of the story)

    What if Mike Tice was still with the Minnesota Vikings and instead of the Bears doing this to the Ravens it was the Vikings and Mike Tice. It would be easy to see the “pay back” part of this story.

    Most everyone still laughs at the Vikings for being idiots at the draft. Baltimore and Ozzie would be extra careful dealing with the Vikings as the clock wound down because Ozzie would be wary of the “payback” possibility. But, perhaps his guard was down dealing with Chicago and not remembering that the biggest reason Mike Tice got the reputation for being the village idiot was for the draft mishap.

    Maybe, this time Tice or his buddy on the Bears was “purposely” just a bit “slow” on calling in the trade.

    Either way, the Bears got the guy they wanted without giving up anything extra AND the bonus for them is that Tice and his buddies get a little laugh in the back room for some karma they had a hand in creating.

    Again….I can’t stand the Bears. I really don’t like the Ravens. But I do like the tale as old as time of the “stupid” guy who comes out on top of the “smart” guy.

    I was sitting at home thinking about Tice and the Bears when this was going down on TV and couldn’t help but laugh as I watched the NFL trade official on his telephone yelling and cursing at whom I assumed was a representative of the Ravens complaining like a whining little child that they had a deal with the Bears. I was saying to those around me that they should stop complaining and get their pick up ASAP but nope….they couldn’t get themselves to do it. They just had to argue their case. I wanted so bad for one of NFL networks 1000’s of cameras which seemed to be in every draft kids house to please put just one camera on Mike Tice to see his actions/face etc. It would have been priceless.

    He is still the village idiot (although he is perhaps one of the best OL coaches in football). But…..

    yes “thelongestgoodbye” that’s why I said “hats off” to the Bears GM. It was funny as everything to watch it go down (unless of course you are a Ravens fan…..I do feel bad for you….it’s not your fault Ozzie blew it…..and I totally understand how much easier it is to blame the other guy….but really, you got your guy, the bears got their guy… would have been even funnier if the next 8 to 10 teams rushed up with their draft cards and submitted them and watched the sheer panic on Ozzies face….but you guys got the guy you wanted….Ozzie is still a much better GM than most in the league….so just take your lumps….laugh a bit at the irony of the back story…..and then move on)

  23. @qj1984 says:

    I’m calling BS here. The spokesman for the Ravens claimed that only after Newsome started taking some heat from the press, but the Ravens had plenty of time to call it in. I was watching that draft and there is no way that the Ravens didn’t have time to get the pick in. The Vikings were off the phone (meaning the deal was done) for more than 5 minutes… plenty of time to turn in a trade by hand or by phone. So regardless of whatever CYA PR excuse the Ravens put forth, the bottom line is that once they agreed to a trade and the Vikings phoned it in, it was the Raven’s responsibily to turn it in, or notify the Vikings that they could/would not do it. They failed, costing the Vikings 2 spots in the first round, or a 4th and 6th round selection.

  24. @qj1984

    Please don’t gulp down everything the media tells us.

    The Ravens “tried to call in but the line was busy”.

    Let me ask you a question that is extreme but it’s the extreme that helps us to think clearly.

    Let’s say you (qj1984) are the GM for the Ravens.

    Let’s say I (norsedrew) am the GM for the Vikings.

    Now let’s say I am a huge idiot (I know this is the easy part)….

    So, it’s time for the NFL draft next year.

    I call you and want to make a trade. You have the number 15 pick in the draft and I have the number 10 pick.

    I ask you if you will do this trade.

    I will send you Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway and Sidney Rice as well as my #10 pick in the draft but I really, really, really want Matt Birk to come back to Minnesota to play for one more year and then retire. I want him so bad that I don’t even want your #15 pick. All I want is Matt Birk and I will pay you my #10 pick, Peterson, Harvin, Williams, Greenway & Rice.

    You immediately think I must be on crack but I call in the trade to the NFL and I leave my telephone line open so you can actually hear my call which I have on speaker phone go in to the NFL trade desk.

    You then try to call the NFL to say “YES!!!! We are doing a trade with the GM from Minnesota who obviously is on Crack but we the Ravens are doing this trade right now this second before they change their mind”

    BUT….the telephone is busy… can’t get through. Ugggg, what will you do????

    Option #1 – tell the owner of the Ravens….sorry but we couldn’t pull off the trade cuz the phone was busy????? (now who is on crack)???

    Option #2 – Get out of your chair and walk (or RUN) over to the NFL Desk and let them know the clock is ticking and for some reason the phone is busy. PICK UP THE %$%#@ phone so we can make this trade happen.

    The Ravens said the “phone was busy”
    The Bears said “we are sorry….it was a mixup…so sorry”

    The words are different BUT they both mean the exact same thing.

    The Ravens didn’t really want to make the trade in the event some years ago. (they are just much better at public relations that the Bears)

    The Bears didn’t really want to make the trade this year.

    If either team had really wanted to make the deal they could have made it happen with MINIMAL effort.

  25. This was clearly a result of the shortened time period for the draft. I can’t stand when rules are changed to somehow “quicken the pace of the game”, when it actually affects the OUTCOME of that game.

    Put the draft back to 15 minutes, this entire draft seemed so rushed and hurried. Not fun, and our favorite teams might not get to what they wanted because they ran out of time, or felt too rushed. What’s the point Goodell? I’ll gladly sit around another 5 minutes if it means my team can actually improve itself. Stop this ridiculous very short term gain, incredibly devastating long term affect.

  26. @ qj1984

    The story of the Jags jamming the phone line was started when Newsome made a joke about it. There is absolutely nothing to indicate this was actually the case.

    The one thing people seem to skim over when stating Newsome tried to call the league but the line was busy, is the fact that he KNEW the league wasn’t notified but he never bothered to inform the Vikings the pick was still theirs. That’s far worse than Angelo THINKING the league was notified and being wrong.

    It couldn’t have been intentional on the Bears part because they had no reason to try and dupe the Ravens into passing on the pick. Chicago wanted a player they thought KC was going to take (Carimi) so they tried to trade up past the Chiefs. So why dupe the Ravens into passing on the pick when KC was next and could take the player Chicago wanted?

  27. @norse

    don’t be offended, but for some reason I put more stock in Peter King’s take on the 2003 vikings-ravens situation than I do yours.

    even if Peter King extrapolated and rationalized as much of his argument as you do (which he doesn’t), at least he’s actually been behind the scenes at the draft and witnessed it firsthand.

  28. cacaw420… problem…no offense taken. Everyone gets to believe whatever they want. That’s what makes being a sports writer such a great job. Lots of backslapping and opinions and seldom the opportunity to get to the bottom of anything.

    We all know what we know.

    We all choose who or what to believe.

    Sometimes I stand firmly in Peter Kings corner on his opinions too.

    Sometimes I don’t.

    This is one of those times I don’t.

    No offense taken. (but, I’d put money on my version being the one closer to reality in this particular story…

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