Ryan Poles, Bears

Ryan Poles, Bears


General Manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears.

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles has navigated several hard decisions since assuming control of the team two years ago, but dealing QB Justin Fields was one of the most difficult.

Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic published a piece on Poles’ tenure Monday, April 1, during which he noted that the GM and his contemporaries in the front office would joke that “he sometimes wished Fields was a jerk.”

“Because it would make that a lot easier,” Poles explained. “But he’s such a good dude who worked his butt off. Was a great teammate, great in the locker room, handled the ups and downs really well. So it’s really hard to move on from guys that you like personally.”

Bears Turned Down Better Offer to Send Justin Fields to Steelers, One of His Preferred Destinations

Justin Fields, Bears

GettyFormer Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields will play for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024.

Poles made the hard call and dealt Fields, as Chicago owns the No. 1 overall pick in an NFL draft rife with quarterback talent. The Bears are favorites to land USC signal-caller Caleb Williams, among the most highly-touted prospects in recent years and often compared to three-time Super Bowl winner Patrick Mahomes.

However, Poles’ abiding affection for his former quarterback may have led to Chicago surrendering Fields for less of a trade return than the franchise could have gotten otherwise.

Brooke Pryor of ESPN reported on March 29 that Fields provided Poles with a list of four preferred destinations: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders, Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.

Poles, who said earlier in the offseason that he intended to “do right” by Fields, ultimately sent the QB to the Steelers for a conditional 2025 sixth-round pick that becomes a fourth-rounder if he plays 51% of Pittsburgh’s offensive snaps in 2024.

However, Pryor also reported that Poles decided to forego at least one offer for Fields that was superior to what the Steelers gave up because the other suitor wasn’t on Fields’ list of desired teams.

“Bears general manager Ryan Poles ultimately followed through on a combine pledge to ‘do right by Justin,’ dealing Fields to Pittsburgh over at least one better offer from a team with an established quarterback starter, a Bears team source said,” Pryor wrote.

Ryan Poles Has Set Bears Up for Run of Success That Could Start as Early as 2024

Ryan Poles, Chicago Bears

GettyGeneral manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears.

While Poles perhaps didn’t get the return he could have for Fields, he may have bought himself more with other players down the line. Minor team sacrifices for the betterment of an individual player on his way out the door generally aren’t good business, but the knowledge that a GM genuinely wants to do right by his players might buy good will and tip a free-agent decision down the line.

It could also help to soften future blows when Poles inevitably needs to make more difficult calls, which he acknowledged are coming.

“Those decisions will continue to come with success,” Poles told Fishbain. “Again, you get to a point where a quarterback starts taking up a lot of cap space or you have a better team that does. Like, you can’t keep everybody.”

Restarting the quarterback contract clock with one of the best prospects in recent memory is a boon for the Bears, who will have more money to spend around Williams because of that as he plays on a cost-controlled rookie contract for the next four years.

Chicago also owns the rights to the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft and netted Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers for a fourth-round pick in trade earlier this offseason. In other words, Poles has set the table, and now the time has come for the Bears to eat.

Max Dible covers the NFL, NBA and MLB for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns and Golden State Warriors. He covered local and statewide news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for BigIslandNow.com and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible

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