Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Superstar quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson weren’t the first two signal callers taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. No, with the No. 2 overall pick, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace opted to take Mitch Trubisky out of the University of North Carolina.
What was it that made Trubisky the apple of Pace’s eye? How about 3,748 passing yards and 30 touchdowns against six interceptions in 13 games as UNC’s starter. Yup, 13 games is all it took to convince Pace that Trubisky was the guy he wanted to hinge his career on.
The thing is, Trubisky isn’t as bad as advertised. He’s an average starting quarterback who somehow led Chicago to the playoffs twice despite head coach Matt Nagy’s go-to third-and-long play being a sweep to Cordarelle Patterson towards the short side of the field. Mahomes and Watson turned out to be a little better. That’s all.
The fact Pace traded up to draft Trubisky is what causes Bears fans to pull their hair out. That being said, what turned out to be a highly questionable selection for the Bears ended up being a blessing in disguise for the New Orleans Saints.
The 2017 Mitch Trubisky Trade
The original top-three draft order was the Cleveland Browns followed by the San Francisco 49ers followed by the Bears. It was essentially in ink that the Browns were going to select Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, but the Niners and Bears’ picks were up in the air. San Francisco and Chicago were both looking for signal callers, and Pace wanted to do everything in his power to ensure he got his man.
The Bears traded their soul and then some to swap the No. 3 draft pick for the No. 2 with San Francisco for the right to take the one and only Mitchell Trubisky.
Here’s what Chicago gave up to move up ONE pick:
- No. 3 pick (which became Solomon Thomas)
- No. 67 pick, Round 2 (which was traded to the Saints, who selected Alvin Kamara)
- No. 111 pick, Round 4 (traded to the Seahawks, who selected safety Tedric Thompson)
- No. 70 pick, Round 3 in 2018 (which became All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner)
However, San Francisco didn’t hang onto pick No. 67 for long. They traded it to New Orleans for the Saints’ 2017 seventh-round pick (229th overall) and 2018 second-round pick. Then, with the 67th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected running back Alvin Kamara out of the University of Tennessee.
Alvin Kamara Falls to New Orleans
Alabama fans may recognize Kamara from the famous picture of him, Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake at a Crimson Tide practice in 2013. Kamara was at the bottom of the depth chart at the time. He went on to transfer to Hutchinson Community College and then to Tennessee, where he established himself as a dual-threat back.
The minor trade netted New Orleans one of the most electrifying offensive weapons in the NFL. Kamara dramatically improved his rushing and catching abilities upon entering the league by running for 728 yards and hauling in 81 receptions for 826 yards as a rookie. He scored 14 total touchdowns, including one kickoff return TD, and was named the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Meanwhile, Trubisky struggled during his rookie campaign, completing only 59.4 percent of his passes and throwing seven touchdown passes to seven interceptions while going 4-8 as a starter. Trubisky did get better, but Kamara exploded. He became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 3,000 yards in both rushing and receiving. Not to mention, he’s made the Pro Bowl five times and is a two-time Second-Team All-Pro member.
Now, comparing a quarterback and running back in the NFL is comparing apples and oranges. However, the Bears gave up an arm and a leg to draft a guy they moved on from after four years and the Saints found a dynamic playmaker at a phenomenal value in the third round. Chicago’s front office shot themselves in the foot and armed an NFC rival in one fell swoop. Shockingly, Pace and Nagy are no longer with the franchise.
Since leaving Chicago, Trubisky has bounced around the league, signing a one-year deal last year with the Buffalo Bills to back up Josh Allen and in 2022 with the Pittsburgh Steelers to compete for the starting job after Ben Roethlisberger retired. It’s possible Trubisky can become the new signal-caller in Steeltown, but he’s got some serious competition in rookie Kenny Pickett and former Steelers starter Mason Rudolph.
We’re given the benefit of hindsight when evaluating draft day trades, but no one could’ve predicted how lopsided this one turned out.
This article was originally published on April 12, 2022, and has been updated since.