Bears general manager Ryan Poles speaks during a press conference at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Bears GM Ryan Poles feigns suspense around No. 1 pick: ‘Tune in Thursday’

Bears general manager Ryan Poles knows the identity of the No. 1 overall pick, but two days before the 2024 NFL Draft, he’s not quite ready to share.

“We know what we’re going to do,” Poles said Tuesday at a pre-draft press conference. “Everyone’s gotta tune in on Thursday to watch.”

The Bears hold the No. 1 pick via a trade with the Carolina Panthers and draft night in Detroit will bring Poles’ two-year plan to fruition when quarterback Caleb Williams, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2022, likely becomes the third player drafted first overall in Chicago’s storied history.

Beyond the ever-present smoke around the Bears and Williams, there are other reasons the majority opinion holds merit. Chicago has only two quarterbacks on the current depth chart — undrafted Tyson Bagent and journeyman backup Brett Rypien — making the position a massive need.

“We’re proud of where we’ve come from,” Poles said. “It’s going to be hard to make this team now.”

When Poles traded the No. 1 pick to the Panthers weeks before the 2023 draft and received a 2024 first-rounder as part of the return package, he said the prevailing thought was to be in position to draft a quarterback should 2021 first-rounder Justin Fields not prove he’s worthy of the QB1 role.

Leadership changes in personnel and top coaching spots often drive decisions to move on from quarterbacks drafted by previous regimes.

Fields, drafted 11th overall when then-GM Ryan Pace and the Bears moved up from No. 20 in a deal with the New York Giants, was traded to the Steelers last month to be the backup to Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh.

The new brass has tracked Williams incessantly.

Poles, head coach Matt Eberflus, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and other members of the organization have spent countless hours to reach this point. The Bears met with Williams at the NFL Scouting Combine — where Eberflus offers prospects the option of playing darts or putt-putt before the more intensive interview begins — before his pro day workout (where new Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen made an appearance) and were the only team to host Williams at team headquarters for a “top 30” visit.

“The journey to collect all the information is different for everyone,” Poles said. “There’s guys on our board that are high that didn’t come in for a 30-visit that we’ve had other touchpoints. Our networks in the building know the player inside and out that we really, really trust.”

Poles called reports the Bears are shopping the No. 9 overall pick speculation and said he doesn’t feel the need to make a trade to add picks despite holding an NFL-low four selections over seven rounds.

“I feel really good with where we’re at,” Poles said.

–Field Level Media

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles looks on before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Bears GM Ryan Poles: ‘No one is panicking’

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles presented a poised and unified picture of the franchise on Thursday less than 24 hours after a bizarre news cycle blended with rumors hinted at a complete unraveling of the 0-2 team.

“To hit it straight on, we have adversity right now,” Poles said of the state of the Bears, who visit the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

“To make it really, really clear, I know the outside noise — but no one in our building is panicking, no one is flinching at any situations. Not our owner, not our president, not our head coach, not myself. None of our players. Everyone’s focused on solving the issues that we have so that we can be a be a better team.”

Poles clarified those issues don’t involve any FBI search or operative stings, as was reported Wednesday before defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned citing “health and family” concerns.

“I don’t have many details to add there. Halas Hall being raided is completely false. Don’t know where that came from. We’ve worked with Kevin (Warren, team president) and George (McCaskey) and all our leadership to make sure we were handling it the right way, and everything concluded yesterday.”

Head coach Matt Eberflus, formerly defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, will call defensive plays.

“Got a ton of faith in Flus. He’s a leader. He’s done a great job. And then as a defensive play-caller as well, got a ton of faith there,” Poles said.

There are obvious and undeniable concerns from Warren, Poles and Eberflus around the staggered start from quarterback Justin Fields and Chicago’s offense. The Bears have four turnovers and four touchdowns in two games, losses to the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which they were outscored 65-37.

Fields, asked Wednesday to explain his statement that he was thinking too much and needed to play free, said “it could be coaching.” He apologized to coaches when some media reports claimed he said only “coaching,” without what Fields felt was proper context. Fields then held a brief post-practice session with media at Halas Hall to further explain he wants the blame for “everything.”

Poles said at present, Fields is learning how to rely on the new level of talent around him — No. 1 wide receiver DJ Moore, for example — and letting go of his habit of making every play himself.

“Now he gets talent around him and has to figure and balance when to do those cool things athletically, when to lean on others,” Poles said. “And that is sometimes a gray place to live in, and that takes time.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 13, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, left, and general manager Ryan Poles walk off the field after the Bears defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 19-14 at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Bears GM: Bidding for No. 1 pick begins at two first-rounders

No general manager cheered top quarterback performances at the NFL Scouting Combine more than Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears.

Chicago owns the No. 1 pick in the draft for the first time since 1947 but Poles, in his second season with the franchise, has no intention of drafting any of the quarterbacks who are in high demand atop the 2023 draft in April.

Any team can have the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and Poles made the asking price crystal clear over the past week.

“I’m blessed to be able to read people,” Poles said in an interview with NBC Sports. “I can feel it. There’s urgency out there. There’s pressure.”

Reports indicate at least three teams have offers on the table to the Bears: the Houston Texans, who pick second and 12th overall in 2023; the Indianapolis Colts, who pick at No. 4 and No. 35; and the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has a bonus first-round pick, No. 5, as a result of the Russell Wilson trade last year, as well as the No. 20 pick.

Poles, 37, doesn’t need to act with any urgency. Picks in the next three drafts can be used in trades only after the 2023 league year begins March 15. If Poles waits until draft day, 2026 draft picks can also be included.

The Bears are comfortable at quarterback with developing 2021 first-rounder Justin Fields. And with $100 million in salary cap space, the Bears are in position to assure the rebuild under way has some staying power. Moving lower than the No. 2 pick in a trade with the Texans would bring the risk for Poles that his preferred player is picked by the Arizona Cardinals at No. 3. Like Chicago, the Cardinals aren’t in this QB market.

“No one’s gonna rush me,” Poles said. “I know I can get a ‘24 one and a ‘25 one. You’re telling me for the next two years I’ll have two ones? That’s either four really good players, or if we’re cruising, we can still trade back.”

Poles is operating without a second-round pick in 2023. The Bears traded theirs, which turned out to be No. 32 overall, to the Pittsburgh Steelers at the October deadline for wide receiver Chase Claypool. When Miami forfeited its first-round pick due to tampering, the first pick of the second round became No. 32.

That intel might be good news for the Colts, who could offer No. 4 and No. 35 for No. 1.

The Texans have trump cards at nearly every turn with capital returned from the Cleveland Browns and the Deshaun Watson trade last year. In addition to the second pick and No. 12 from Cleveland, Houston has an extra third-round pick from the Browns and five of the top 73 selections in this draft.

Should Seattle veer to make a move out of general manager John Schneider’s typical lane of moving back and collecting value, this could be the year. Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll chirped of the rare opportunity and decided interest in quarterbacks in this class, which might also be calculated public discourse to entice a trade offer from another QB-needy team.

But Seattle picks fifth, 20th and 37th, with five total picks in the top 83.

The Raiders (seventh) and Panthers (ninth) are also known to be in the QB market.

“The interesting part is having a conversation with one team, and then one hour later another team texts you wanting in on the trade and they’re not afraid of what the floor of what you’re asking for is,” Poles said.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Bears GM: Justin Fields is starting QB ‘right now’

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles said Tuesday that the plan “right now” is for Justin Fields to be the team’s starting quarterback in 2023.

Poles made the comments from the NFL Scouting Combine, one day after reports surfaced that the Bears would shop the No. 1 overall pick this week. But Poles added that he needs to remain faithful to the process of looking at every draft option – including the QBs.

“I think that’s always been the case, we’ve always leaned that way,” Poles said Tuesday about shopping the No. 1 pick. “Because Justin did some really nice things and I’m really excited about where his game is going to go.

“But at the same time, when you sit in our situation, No. 1 overall, you have to do your due diligence. You have to investigate everything. You have to spend time with those guys, just to make sure we’re making the right decision,” he added.

Poles was asked directly if Fields would be the Bears’ starter next season.

“That’s the plan right now. We’re going to do our homework on this class,” Poles said.

Head coach Matt Eberflus said the Bears are still evaluating “everything” but praised Fields’ play last season and his drive to improve.

“All options are open,” Eberflus said. “Right now we leave everything open, and look at all options.”

Eberflus said Fields is focused on improving as a passer.

“The big thing we’ve talked about with him — let’s just take what the defensive gives you, and then move on,” Eberflus said Tuesday.

Playing it cagey allows Poles to potentially drive up the price on trading out of the top pick. And suitors are lining up.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are expected targets of the Indianapolis Colts, who would like to move up from No. 4 to avoid losing out on an elite passer. The Houston Texans own the No. 2 pick and are also in the QB market, as are a number of teams with selections in the top 10 who could be willing trade matches when Poles begins comparing offers.

Poles said “starter conversations” have taken place.

“Nothing specific about players, picks and all that. It’s just interest,” he said.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Fields ‘would love honesty’ in Bears’ draft plans

In an interview on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Super Bowl radio row Friday, Chicago quarterback Justin Fields addressed the possibility that the Bears might use the No. 1 overall draft pick on another quarterback and said he’d like the team to be transparent with him throughout the spring.

Fields was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2021 draft, with 2022 being his first full season as the Bears’ starter. He finished the year with 2,242 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions plus 1,143 yards on the ground with eight rushing scores.

The Bears went 3-14, losing their final 10 games (Fields missed two due to injury) and passing the Houston Texans on the final day of the regular season for the worst record and top overall pick.

Fields said he had not spoken with the Bears about their plans, only having a standard exit meeting at the end of the season. Eisen asked Fields if he would want the Bears to keep him in the know if they “do their due diligence” of working out top prospects like Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

“Oh, yeah, for sure. I think everybody would love honesty in the process,” Fields said, “so I would definitely like to know that. And, you know, it’s a business. So totally understand, no hard feelings. But like I said, I control what I can control. Control my work ethic, control how I carry myself each and every day.”

Fields was then asked if he felt he already has “proven (his) worth” as the Bears’ franchise quarterback.

“I think I’ve shown a little bit, but I don’t think I’ve shown the world what I can do in terms of playing the full quarterback position and playing it consistently,” Fields said, pointing to his final game against Detroit, when he completed just 7 of 21 passes for 75 yards.

Chicago general manager Ryan Poles could go a number of directions with the No. 1 pick — replace Fields with an even younger high-quality prospect, select a defensive player to help a unit that ranked last in points allowed last year or trade out with a quarterback-needy team.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears safety Tashaun Gipson (38) in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Bears, Vikings select young AFC executives as GMs

Two NFC North opponents have filled their vacant general-manager positions, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

Heading to the Chicago Bears is Ryan Poles, with the Vikings selecting Browns executive Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, per the reports. Poles also was a finalist for the open general manager jobs in Minnesota and with the New York Giants, who last week hired Joe Schoen for the role.

The Bears interviewed Poles on Friday. The 36-year-old spent the past 13 seasons in a variety of roles with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was promoted to executive director of player personnel in advance of the 2021 season after three years as the assistant director.

In Poles’ one season as Kansas City’s director of college scouting (2017), the Chiefs selected quarterback Patrick Mahomes after trading up to No 10 in the draft.

The Bears interviewed a number of candidates for the position, including Schoen and former NFL general managers Jeff Ireland, Eliot Wolf and Reggie McKenzie.

Adofo-Mensah, 40, interviewed with the Vikings on Jan. 17. He spent the past two seasons as the vice president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns.

Adofo-Mensah got his first job in an NFL front office in 2013 when the San Francisco 49ers named the business executive as their manager of football research and development.

He previously worked as an associate portfolio manager at Taylor Woods Capital and as vice president/executive director at Credit Suisse as a commodities trader. He holds a master’s degree in economics from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton.

The new general managers will dive into ongoing searches for head coaches with both teams. The Bears are seeking a replacement for Matt Nagy and the Vikings for Mike Zimmer, and both franchises have interviewed several candidates.

In Chicago, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has interviewed twice, and the Bears reportedly have requested second interviews with former NFL head coaches Dan Quinn and Jim Caldwell.

The Vikings have interviewed eight candidates — Quinn, former NFL head coaches Todd Bowles and Raheem Morris, and five up-and-coming coordinators, the most recent of them defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans of the San Francisco 49ers.

–Field Level Media