Earlier in the week, MMQB's Peter King wrote that he believes any team looking to trade for New York Jets D-lineman Muhammad Wilkerson better be ready to offer more than just a first-round selection. As King sees it, Wilkerson is "one of the five best defensive linemen in football, by any measure" and worthy of netting the Jets "picks in the first and third or fourth round," in return. By this measure, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune sees very little chance that the Chicago Bears will swing a deal for Wilkerson, despite the Bears being mentioned as a top possible landing spot.
While the Jets are open to trading Wilkerson, Biggs believes Bears general manager Ryan Pace places too high a premium on draft picks to make a good trade partner for New York, despite the high-profile deal he swung with the Jets last offseason. In Biggs' opinion, Chicago has a plan in place to use the next three draft classes to "lay the foundation for what they want to have." To give up the two picks King believes necessary to acquire Wilkerson would throw a wrench in the "build through the draft" strategy Biggs believes Chicago wants to follow.
By giving up a first-round pick for such a high-priced player like Wilkerson, whom Biggs expects will want a new contract in the neighborhood of Malik Jackson's recent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bears will be giving up on the cheap labor that comes with the first four years of a rookie contract. Biggs writes, "Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, Wilkerson could be signed to a deal averaging $16 million per season. That’s still going to be about $4 million more than the 11th pick in this draft will get over the next four seasons combined."
Another suggested scenario that Biggs finds unlikely is Chicago engineering a swap of Wilkerson for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. With Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker already in the fold, WR doesn't seem to be a big enough position of need for New York to ditch a top talent like Wilkerson for. And trading Jeffery would leave too big of a void of play-makers on offense for Jay Cutler & Co.
While Bears fans might want desperately to see a star like Wilkerson don a Chicago uniform, it seems much more likely Pace will continue to build through the draft.