At this time next week, NFL teams and those who represent free agents will be chopping it up as part of their annual offseason dance. And when it comes to the Chicago Bears, things will be different this year.
Chicago has a new general manager, Ryan Poles, and a first-year head coach, Matt Eberflus, coming in with a clean slate. Eberflus’ scheme figures to bring about a different type of player than the ones we’re used to seeing the Bears target. But there is one newcomer whose presence we shouldn’t overlook as we approach this transaction-heavy period: Assistant GM Ian Cunningham.
The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns share what they’ve heard about the Bears at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. And the nugget that stood out most to me came in the form of praise for the Bears’ new assistant GM. That Cunningham is described as someone who “may be the most popular member” of Poles’ new staff will grab your attention. Especially since it seems like folks around the league were raving when discussing Cunningham with The Athletic’s Bears beat tandem. And this section really got me going:
“Cunningham will bring guys in,” one agent staid. They’ll sign because of him.”
“He’s the one,” a rival front-office executive said.”
Cleaning house and bringing in new leadership is cool. But have you tried hiring organizational difference-makers?
The idea that Chicago’s new assistant general manager could be a prominent voice in bringing in players is high praise. Apparently, players will sign “because of him” and don’t miss that other vague, but sexy comment, “he’s the one.” When was the last time we were discussing someone on the Bears front office being an influential factor in reeling in talent? There were some moments when players said (now former head coach) Matt Nagy was a strong recruiter. But otherwise, there hasn’t been much chatter in that regard.
Because he is new to the team, there is so much we don’t know about Cunningham. To that end, there is much we don’t know about how he could be impactful with agents. Is he a smooth-talker? A soothsayer? Is Cunningham pulling from what he learned at prior stops in Philly and Baltimore? Does he know the secrets of the ooze? Is he Force sensitive and capable of using Jedi mind-tricks? No matter what it is, it is apparent that Cunningham is a wild-card we should be accounting for this offseason.
In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing what Cunningham, Poles, and the rest of the new-look Bears can piece together. Building this thing out won’t be easy. It never is. But bringing in the right people to put this ship back on course is an important first step. And if hiring Cunningham was the first step toward the right direction, then we’re looking forward to it. At minimum, it is nice to have some front office execs who aren’t already being dragged by NFL on-lookers.
Anyway, you’ll want to give the whole piece a read in its entirety. There more-than-a-handful of nuggets, tidbits, and notes worth taking in and keeping in mind as this offseason enters its full swing mode. But that quote about Cunningham has me thinking about his place in the grand scheme of things.