I'm not a particularly ardent defender of Jerry Angelo. I was more or less in his corner before the 2009 season and I'm still not convinced he's the blundering idiot that most in Chicago believe him to be, but his record is mixed and his approach to building a franchise is uneven and inconsistent at best. I certainly loathe his approach to building the offensive line with aging free agents (although that finally appears to be changing). Frankly, however, I never thought I'd see the day when the media and certain fans in Chicago criticized Jerry for not wasting a draft pick in an unnecessary trade.
If you aren't familiar with the story, back during the first round of this year's draft the Bears were afraid that the Chiefs were going to take Gabe Carimi at#27, so they attempted to make a trade with Baltimore in order to move up to #26 and secure the tackle. The deal was the 29th pick and a 4th round pick in exchange for the 26th pick. Once the Bears realized the Chiefs weren't calling Carimi, they either "made a mistake" in Angelo's words and failed to inform the league of their deal with the Ravens, making the trade invalid, or they simply decided to wait out the clock and keep their pick. The Ravens ran out of time to pick #26, the Chiefs made their selection at 26 instead, and Baltimore was forced to wait until #27 to pick Jimmy Williams, who they had wanted all along. Chicago got Carimi at 29, so every one got their man, although Baltimore will now have to pay their guy slightly less since he was the 27th and not the 26th pick.
Chicago, meanwhile, exchanged that 4th round pick to Washington the next day in order to move up in the 2nd round and get Stephen Paea, who will destroy worlds and reap the souls of the damned this season. Good move, in my opinion. Shrewd move by Ol' Angelo. Belichick-ian, even.
Except this is Chicago, so the usual boiler plate about "doing things the right way" and blah blah has to come into play. The damn story just won't die, since John Harbaugh's still bitching about it.
There's a few problems with Harbaugh's narrative, however.
1. The NFL ruled that the Bears broke absolutely no rules by doing this. None. Whatsoever.
2. The Ravens have tried this maneuver themselves before. Back in 2003 we all had a damn good laugh when the Vikings let time expire on them as they tried to make their first round pick. The reason the Vikings ran out of time? The Ravens failed to go through with a trade and inform the league office. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens GM:
“The deal was not consummated. A deal is not a deal until I talk to [league executive] Joel Bussert, and I never talked to Joel Bussert.”
OMG, that's like, THE EXACT F&$KING THING! Those damn unethical Ravens. I'd have never expected this from an organization whose players openly blame officials for losses and offer bounties for injuring players.
3. The idea that this is somehow going to damage Chicago's prestige with the league and make other teams reluctant to deal with them is absolutely hilarious, because, as I mentioned, the Bears were able to trade the exact same 4th round pick that they offered Baltimore to Washington in order to draft Paea. This is the NFL. Any team run by a halfway competent front office (sorry, Cincinnati) is going to make whatever trade they have to do what they believe will improve their organization. I guarantee the Ravens themselves would pull the trigger on a trade with the Bears in the very next draft if it got them the guy they want. Hell, I guarantee you every other front office employee in the NFL mutters under his breath "those f*&king guys" every time they see the New England Patriots on the phone, but they still pick it up.
So John Harbaugh can take the moral high ground and bitch all he wants, and people will write about stupid shit like this until the lockout ends (tomorrow?!), but none of this matters because the Bears broke no rules and there's not going to be a single tangible repercussion to this.