We are about a month away from when Ryan Poles made a trade with the Carolina Panthers to move down from first in the 2023 NFL Draft to nine. The Panthers took quarterback Bryce Young, while Chicago moved down again to 10 and selected Darnell Wright. Based on the outcome of the 2023 NFL season, I think it's fair to say that Poles made the right decision. Once again the Chicago Bears have the top pick in the draft, but will Ryan Poles be willing to trade down again?
Last week, all Hell broke loose on social media when reports that Kliff Kingsbury, who was reportedly taking the offensive coordinator position with the Raiders, stepped away from a negotiated deal with Las Vegas to accept the same position with the Commanders. Kingsbury interviewed for the same position with the Bears in January, but Chicago eventually chose Shane Waldron to be their offensive coordinator instead. Many fans wanted Kingsbury as the OC in Chicago because of the connection he has to projected first-overall pick Caleb Williams.
Kliff Kingsbury in Washington doesn't mean the Chicago Bears trade down
If we look at the situation the Chicago Bears find themselves in, it seems like a win-win -- at least from speaking to the process and the decisions that will be made. You can defend the idea of the Bears moving back from the first pick in the draft to collect a haul of draft capital (and potentially players) while sticking with Justin Fields. Fields should be a starting quarterback in the league, he just hasn't proven to be in the top half despite showing progress year after year. You can also defend Ryan Poles selecting Caleb Williams with the first pick in the draft and trading Fields to the highest bidder.
When we look at the news of Kliff Kingsbury changing his mind and making a lateral decision to go from Las Vegas to Washington, it means little for the Bears. Ryan Poles holds all the cards when it comes to the first pick in the draft and many teams are going to be interested in moving up. Caleb Williams is that level of prospect. However, all that Kingsbury going to Washington means is that he probably feels better with Washington landing Drake Maye as a consolation prize than whatever Las Vegas does at the QB position.
From a team perspective, it also means that Washington is likely to make a push for that top pick in the draft. Kingsbury was only Caleb Williams' offensive coordinator for one season -- a season that saw Williams fall from a God-like fashion to just a really good quarterback prospect. A prospect once deemed generational has seen his stock fall ever so slightly, but is still the top QB prospect in the class.
For Washington to move up, they would have to send an unprecedented amount in return for Poles to even consider it. Knowing that many teams are scratching and clawing for a chance to draft Caleb Williams should tell Bears fans all they need to know - Williams is too good of a prospect to pass up. This is coming from someone who has said on multiple occasions trading down is the smart play. Smart plays aren't always the best plays though. High-risk bets are the ones that usually pay out best in the end and I don't see Poles being overly calculated in his decision. Plus, Williams' floor can't be that awful.
A realistic trade offer, one that would still be unprecedented to move up only one spot, is a first-round pick swap, the Commanders' 2nd-round pick, the Commanders' 2025 1st-rounder, and their 2026 2nd-rounder. That would be one Hell of a haul for Poles to move down from only one to two. Poles would likely only make this move if he has Drake Maye ranked nearly as high as Williams, but this move would still signify the team moves on from Justin Fields in the process.
In the end, all the Kingsbury news means is Washington wants Williams and is doing whatever possible to land him, but that doesn't mean Chicago must make the trade. The Bears hold most of the cards here and Williams isn't forcing the few cards he has in the hand. I fully expect Chicago to take Caleb Williams first overall while Kliff Kingsbury enjoys a better future quarterback situation with Washington than he would have seen with the Raiders this year.