Three years later and people are still flabbergasted that the Chicago Bears traded the Nos. 3, 67 and 111 picks, as well as a 2018 third-round pick, to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the second overall pick to draft QB Mitch Trubisky.
Ryan Pace put his reputation on the line that day, but it appears he felt compelled to do so because of the influence of retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.
In her latest piece for Bleacher Report, Kalyn Kahler stated Manning began taking part in numerous activities with different teams throughout the league which included hanging out in war rooms on draft day to sit in on various combine interviews.
He also “attended preseason quarterback meetings with the Bears,” Kahler says. Manning played a huge role in the Trubisky pick because of how friendly he was with both Trubisky and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
“In the weeks leading up to the draft, teams go to extremes to gather information on what other clubs intend to do with their picks. In 2017, the Bears brass was interested in finding out what Manning was doing, even though he had been out of the game for a year. Manning had formed a relationship with North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who had sought Manning’s advice on whether he should declare for the draft or return to school. Chicago, slated to pick third, was in need of a quarterback, and had its aim set on Trubisky. The Browns, though, also were rumored to like him and had the No. 1 pick. They too had a connection to Manning through owner Jimmy Haslam, a major Tennessee booster and someone who has known Manning since his college days playing for the Volunteers.”
The Bears were concerned that Manning might’ve been praising Trubisky to other teams and thought the Browns, who had the No. 1 overall pick, would try to trade up from 12 to snag him.
“A source familiar with the situation says the Bears personnel staff wanted to know if Manning was saying good things about Trubisky to Haslam. Enough to convince the Browns to go quarterback with the first pick? The Bears didn’t necessarily need Manning’s opinion on Trubisky (though then-head coach John Fox had already called to ask him that earlier in the process), but they feared the power that a recommendation from Manning might have in the hands of a draft rival. The Bears, who eventually traded up and selected Trubisky No. 2 overall after the Browns drafted defensive end Myles Garrett, never did find out what was going on in Haslam and Manning’s conversations, but they were correct that the two were talking. Haslam says they did discuss Trubisky that year, but more about his personality than his football traits. Manning, for his part, was oblivious to the cloak-and-dagger machinations going on behind the scenes. “It wouldn’t surprise me,” he says, laughing at the thought of it. “These guys leave no stone unturned.”
Manning had no clue that his influence helped shape the Bears’ thinking during the 2017 draft.
Now, we sit here in 2020 and the team looks poised to move on from Trubisky when they had a shot to take either Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes.