In the early days of free agency, Chicago Bears General Manager has already dramatically transformed the team’s roster. Adding linebackers TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds launches the unit from one of the league’s worst to one of the best overnight. Defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker and guard Nate Davis also fill critical needs despite flying somewhat under the radar prior to yesterday.
Still, Twitter GMs (me included) like to pick apart every move and continue hurling suggestions to the Chicago front office.
At this point, most fans and pundits should agree Poles is executing his role to perfection. It will take time—possibly multiple seasons—for the boss to get the flowers he deserves, but the plan has been in motion since his first day on the job.
Let’s review some of the major, even controversial moves Poles made to put the Bears in an excellent position to compete.
Trading Khalil Mack
Not since Brian Urlacher did the Bears have such an iconic Monster of the Midway. Edge rusher Khalil Mack stole the hearts of Bears fans everywhere when he dominated the Packers in his debut (officially speaking, I don’t recognize anything that happened after his pick-six).
As exciting as he was to watch, the news of Mack’s trade to the Los Angeles Charges put a knot in our chests. The newly hired general manager recognized the bleak near future of the franchise and dealt away Chicago’s best player before incurring a $30.2 million cap hit.
With two years left on his contract at the time, sending 32-year-old Mack to the Chargers helped Poles build up the massive cap space heading into this offseason. He is now stocking the roster with young talent capable of dominating the division and league for years to come.
Trading Robert Quinn
Robert Quinn’s time in Chicago was a roller coaster. His first year fell flat. In his second, the former Tar Heel set the franchise record for sacks. In 2022 he was flat again.
Few disagreed with the decision to trade Quinn to the Eagles, both for the team’s sake and that of a beloved player. At 32 years old, Quinn has only a few seasons left and deserves to compete for a championship, an opportunity he had in Philadelphia last year.
For the Bears, Draft picks and cap space mean more to the franchise’s future than a single sporadically effective player.
Trading Roquan Smith
Another fan-favorite, linebacker Roquan Smith announced he would request a trade prior to the 2022 season. In what seemed at the time to be a heartfelt message to fans, Smith noted that the front office was unwilling to negotiate in good faith.
In late October 2022, news broke that Smith was headed to Baltimore to play for the Ravens. In return, Poles snagged a second- and a fifth-round pick in 2023 as well as linebacker A.J Klein, who was cut soon after.
Perhaps more important than the Draft capital, Poles avoided having to overpay for an off-ball linebacker. Instead, for a similar price, he acquired two equally effective players with similarly high ceilings (Edwards and Edmunds).
Once again, it appears Poles’ foresight was crystal clear.
Photo Courtesy of The Athletic.
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