Amidst the rumors that the New Orleans Saints might trade up in the 2015 NFL Draft, I feared that the price would be too high for them to grab someone like defensive tackle Leonard Williams.
While the scenario was possible, a team in the Top 5 would likely want both of the Saints first round picks as well as their second round pick at the very least to jump that high.
Williams would eventually go in that range to the New York Jets with the 6th overall pick.
I thought that outside linebacker Vic Beasley would be a more obtainable pick even though the Saints would most likely have to maneuver past the Atlanta Falcons to grab him.
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Vic Beasley (Clemson) poses for a photo after being selected as the number eighth overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Beasley, prior to the draft, had gushed over the idea of playing for his home team and I knew head coach Dan Quinn wouldn’t let him past their spot since Beasley fit the mold of players he coached as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator.
The Chicago Bears picked right before the Falcons at 7th overall and I actually banked on the Saints making a trade with them to grab Beasley as Williams went off the board.
Why did I think this? Well because the Saints had a former employee and close ally in new Bears GM Ryan Pace.
Pace was hired by the Saints in 2001 and in six years became their director of pro personnel and then director of player personnel in 2013.
He became a hot commodity this offseason and the Bears wasted no time in hiring him as their new GM.
I figured that Pace would be easy to work a trade with and when I saw the Bears on the clock, I eagerly awaited the gold banner with the Saints logo to pop up with the word “TRADE” come across….but that never came.
The Bears selected wide receiver Kevin White and then the Falcons wasted no time in grabbing Beasley. It was a tad disappointing to say the least.
The Saints ended up staying at 13th overall and selected tackle Andrus Peat with confused looks from fans on the pick.
To add insult to injury, head coach Sean Payton said in the press conference that evening that they were ready to select defensive tackle Danny Shelton but the Cleveland Browns snagged him right before with the 12th overall pick.
It was puzzling as to why no trade happened with Chicago especially when the Saints did show significant interest in Beasley leading up to the draft.
Payton alluded that the cost was too high to move up in the early picks and that they had just decided it was better to stay where they were at an select the best player available.
At the conclusion of the draft the only trade that happened was with the Washington Redskins that swapped the two teams 6th round picks and the Saints giving up their 6th round pick in 2016 as well to grab cornerback Damian Swann.
Jul 25, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; . New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton addresses the media during a press conference prior to the start of training camp at the team practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
At the concluding press conference Payton was addressing the value of having assistant GM Jeff Ireland and gave some insight on why a trade didn’t happen with Chicago.
Regarding Pace, Payton said:
"Obviously we lost a real talent in a personnel man in Ryan Pace, and I’m sure he’s sweating bullets the last three days with his first draft. Trying to get him to trade was difficult, but I’m sure he did a great job."
What you can take from that is that apparently the Saints did try to work a trade with Pace on at least one occasion but their former friend turned to foe when it came to demands for trading picks.
Pace being stubborn in a trade is surprising but not shocking during his first draft, even for his former team.
The Bears appeared to be in disarray last season and there was even talk of moving on from quarterback Jay Cutler who was thought to once be their franchise player.
To move up Pace likely was wanting a king’s ransom in terms of current and future draft picks from any team regardless of who it was.
That’s very understandable since Pace wants to set a precedent his first year and ensuring his tenure as GM for the Bears won’t be a short one.
As for future trades between Pace and his old team, well they may end up being difficult but not impossible…..