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Ranking the best trades in Bears history

The Bears made four trades in the first four rounds of last week's NFL Draft, dealing up to pick Leonard Floyd in the first round, dropping down twice before selecting Cody Whitehair in the second and moving up to choose Nick Kwiatkoski in the fourth.

With those deals in mind, the following is my ranking of the top trades in Bears history. All of them involve a Hall of Fame player who was either acquired in a trade or selected with a draft pick that was obtained in a deal with another team.


The Bears drafted Dick Butkus with a pick they acquired in a trade with the Steelers.

(1) On the first day of the 1964 NFL Draft, the Bears traded their second- and fourth-round selections to the Steelers in exchange for Pittsburgh's first-round choice the following year.

With the picks they acquired from the Bears, the Steelers chose Notre Dame receiver Jim Kelly at No. 28 and Jackson State tackle Ben McGee at No. 51. Kelly played just one season for the Steelers, catching 10 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. McGee had a more successful career, being voted to two Pro Bowls in nine seasons with the Steelers.

But the Bears spent the No. 3 pick in the 1965 draft that they had acquired from Pittsburgh on Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus. The Chicago native was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight NFL seasons, was selected All-NFL seven times and is still considered arguably the most ferocious defensive player in league history.

Butkus was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1979 and had his No. 51 jersey retired by the Bears in 1994.

(2) Before the 1938 season, the Bears sent end Edgar "Eggs" Manske to the Steelers in exchange for Pittsburgh's first-round selection in the 1939 draft.

The Bears used the pick to take Colombia quarterback Sid Luckman at No. 2. Luckman not only led the Bears to four NFL titles during 12 seasons with the team from 1939-50, but he played a key role in revolutionizing pro football by helping to introduce the "T" formation.

Luckman was voted All-NFL five times, led the NFL in touchdown passes three times and was named league MVP in 1943. He was selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1940s and threw a league-record seven TD passes in a 1943 win over the New York Giants.

Manske returned to the Bears midway through the 1938 season and remained with them through 1940, when they crushed the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL title game.

(3) Prior to the 1955 season, the Bears dealt third- and sixth-round picks in the 1956 draft to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for defensive end Doug Atkins and safety Ken Gorgal.

One of the most dominant and intimidating players of his era, the 6-8, 257-pound Atkins was voted to eight Pro Bowls and named a first-team All-Pro four times in 12 seasons with the Bears. Atkins was a key member of the Bears' 1963 NFL championship team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

With the picks acquired in the trade, the Browns selected Denver end Larry Ross at No. 34 in the third round and Maryland-Eastern Shore end Sherman Plunkett at No. 71 in the sixth round. Ross did not play in the NFL and Plunkett never suited up for the Browns, instead joining the Colts in 1958 after his entry into the NFL was delayed due to military service.

(4) Shortly after the 1940 draft, the Bears traded veteran tackles Russ Thompson and Milt Trost to the Eagles in exchange for Philadelphia's first-round pick, George McAfee.

The No. 2 selection in the draft, McAfee played eight seasons with the Bears in a career that was interrupted by World War II. A star halfback, defensive back and return specialist, he helped the Bears win NFL championships in 1940, '41 and '46.

McAfee still holds the NFL's all-time record with a 12.78 career punt-return average and intercepted 25 passes on defense. His No. 5 was retired by the Bears and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

(5) Three weeks before the 1978 draft, the Bears sent veteran defensive tackle Wally Chambers to the Buccaneers in exchange for tight end Bob Moore and Tampa Bay's first-round draft pick the following year.

After the Buccaneers finished in last place in the NFC Central with a 5-11 record, the Bears used the pick they acquired from Tampa to select Arkansas defensive lineman Dan Hampton at No. 4, their highest pick since taking Walter Payton fourth in 1975.

Hampton played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Bears from 1979-90. He was voted to four Pro Bowls—two at defensive end and two at defensive tackle—and named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1980s. Hampton was an integral part of the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl championship team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Chambers, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Bears, played two seasons with the Buccaneers.

(6) In 1981, the Bears traded a fifth-round pick to the 49ers to move up two spots in the second round from No. 40 to 38 to take Baylor middle linebacker Mike Singletary.

Singletary was voted to 10 Pro Bowls in 12 seasons, the most in franchise history. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and '88 and was voted to the league's All-Decade Team for the 1980s. His 172 starts are the most by a defensive player in Bears history and he finished first or second on the team in tackles in each of his final 11 seasons.

With the two picks they received from the Bears, San Francisco selected Missouri cornerback Eric Wright at No. 38 and Winston-Salem State running back Arrington Jones at No. 122 in the fifth round. Wright was voted to two Pro Bowls in 10 seasons with the 49ers, while Jones appeared in just one NFL game.

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