On trading the No. 1 overall pick, Ryan Poles struggles with the question of “when” not “if”

It’s becoming more and more clear that the Bears will be trading the first overall pick in the 2023 draft. The question is when they’ll do it, not if.

Peter King leads his latest Football Morning in America column with key comments from Bears G.M. Ryan Poles, who’ll make the ultimate call on when and where the Bears go with the top pick that they earned when the Texans blew it by beating the Colts to cap the 2022 regular season.

Should we do this before free agency?” Poles told King. “Or should we wait? I don’t know. That’s what I’ve communicated [to teams]. I could carry this all the way until we’re on the clock the night of the draft. But then there’s teams that want some certainty because, ‘If I need a quarterback bad, should I do that now when some of these guys, like Derek Carr, are out there?’ To me, they’ve got to go so much more above to do it now.”

Poles explained that he’s not being “greedy,” but that in order to make a deal now “they’re gonna have to go above and beyond.”

Regardless, at some point the deal will be done. Because, wisely, the Bears won’t be giving up on current quarterback Justin Fields.

“When we started to adjust and adapt to what he did well, and he started running the ball a little bit, we saw a very unique and special ability and talent that can change the game,” Poles told King, adding that the next step is to work on making him into a more efficient passer. “I do think there’s potential that we have something really good, and to me, you’ve got to see it through.”

Poles said he believes he can pick up an extra first-round pick in 2024 along with an extra first-rounder in 2025 while still getting one of the top six or eight players on his board.

One way to do it could be to trade twice. Flip with the Texans to ensure they’ll get their top quarterback, and then auction the No. 2 pick to teams like the Colts, the Falcons, and the Panthers. Or maybe Poles can simply tap into Carolina owner David Tepper’s chronic quest for a franchise quarterback and get him to go all in to get to No. 1.

Or maybe instead of twice it will be thrice, moving from No. 1 to No. 2 with the Texans, then to No. 4 with the Colts, then to No. 8 or No. 9 with the Falcons or the Panthers, with each team springing up to get a quarterback.

The problem with having options is that Poles eventually has to pick one. The challenge will be when to do it. When to maximize the haul. Whether to risk waiting so long that the offers start to move the other way.

It could happen. If Tepper’s impulses result in the team signing Derek Carr, there will be one fewer paddle at the auction for the top spot, or the lower spot the Bears acquire. If the Falcons make a play for, and land, Lamar Jackson, they’ll be out of the running, too.

Regardless, the Bears are sitting pretty. They’ve got a bird in the hand, and they’ve got three or four teams willing to give up future first-round picks for the proverbial two in the bush. The challenge becomes picking the right time to beat the bushes for a trade, or two (or three), down the board.