Chris Ballard said the Indianapolis Colts would trade for the No. 1 pick if they believe a prospect is worth it. What would that trade look like?
In Chris Ballard’s end-of-season press conference, he was asked the question everyone wanted to know: if the Indianapolis Colts fell in love with one of the quarterback prospects in the 2023 Draft Class, would he be willing to move “heaven and earth” to trade up to No. 1 to select the quarterback? Ballard responded that yes, he would do whatever it takes. Now the question becomes, will any prospect blow the Colts away and what exactly would it take to move from No. 4 to No. 1?
Let’s assume the Colts believe they found the future of their franchise in this draft. How do they convince the Chicago Bears to move three spots back and swap with Indy? In order to understand what Indianapolis may have to sacrifice, let’s look back at some of the other times the No. 1 pick was traded. Since it is such a valuable pick, it is rare, but it has happened.
Josh Schrock, in a recent piece for NBC Connecticut, listed the four times the No. 1 overall pick has been traded since 1997 and also the compensation for those trades. Schrock also included two relevant and recent trades for the No. 2 and No. 3 picks that gave a good understanding of the type of package that could get a deal done. Here are the examples listed.
"1997 Draft: St. Louis Rams trade the No. 6 overall pick, a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick, and a seventh-round pick to the Jets to draft Orlando Pace.2001 Draft: Atlanta Falcons trade the No. 5 overall pick, a third-round pick, and a 2002 second-round pick to the San Diego Chargers to draft Michael Vick.2004 Draft: New York Giants trade the rights to the No. 4 overall pick (Philip Rivers), a third-round pick, a 2005 first-round pick, and a 2005 fifth-round pick for the rights to the No. 1 pick (Eli Manning).2016 Draft: St. Louis Rams trade the No. 15 overall pick, two 2016 second-round picks, a 2016 third-round pick, a 2017 first-round pick, and a 2017 third-round pick for the No. 1 pick in 2016 (Jared Goff), and a fourth- and a sixth-round pick in 2016."
The other two trades that Schrock listed were when Washington sent three first, and a second to the Rams to move from No. 6 to No. 2 for Robert Griffin III in 2012, and when the 49ers sent the Dolphins two first to move from No. 12 to No. 3 for Trey Lance in 2021. Clearly, like everything else in the world, the price of top picks has gotten more expensive each year.
It will cost the Colts a lot to trade for the No. 1 pick
However, sometimes the prospective player is worth the sacrifice. If the Colts believe that Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis, or whatever quarterback gets them excited is worth the sacrifice, they will be sending the Chicago Bears a lot, including a future first-round draft pick. If there’s anything that could help Indianapolis hold on to draft capital, it would be sending a player.
The Bears are a young team that needs a lot, so they’ll definitely welcome some veteran leaders. Chicago would probably ask for DeForest Buckner but it’s hard to imagine the Colts parting ways with him. If Indy is willing to include any player, Kenny Moore makes the most sense. He has one season remaining on his contract, his future with the Colts is in doubt, he has a great relationship with Matt Eberflus, and Chicago’s defense could use him. If the Bears are interested in taking Moore, how would that affect the inevitable package of picks that will still have to be sent?
Considering the fact that Moore is one season removed from a Pro Bowl year but has one season remaining on his contract, he’ll probably allow Indy to hold on to one or two additional picks. The Colts will still likely have to include a future first and an additional non-first-round pick. Whether that’s too much or not is for Ballard to decide.
Ultimately, the Bears and the demand will create the real price. If the Colts really want the No. 1 pick, it isn’t just about sending what Chicago is interested in, it’s about putting together the best package out of all the teams interested in the No. 1 pick. One thing Indy does have on its side is that they’re picking No. 4, so the Bears could trade and still possibly be in range for Will Anderson or Jalen Carter.