Ryan Poles Explains Why He Traded Robert Quinn

One of the most important things Bears GM Ryan Poles did in addressing the Robert Quinn trade is acknowledge the human element that tends to get overlooked in deals of this magnitude.

That Poles considered the human side of things before pulling the trigger on the trade paints Chicago’s GM in a different light:

“Part of the tough thing with this job and the position are the tough decisions you have to make. I almost feel like there’s the emotional side, the human part of it that you know you’re affecting not only a man but his family. You’re kind of shaking that all up, and I don’t take that lightly at all and I’m sensitive to that. You also know that you’re tweaking the fibers of your locker room, and that’s a big deal too. … I value the locker room and what it means and the culture and it sucks to mess with that, to be completely honest with you. But again, my job is to do what’s best for this organization not only now, but in the future. I felt like that was the best move for us to make.”

Don’t get it twisted. The NFL world is cold and cruel. And that’s a cold-blooded trade to make to send a team captain off in a deal for a fourth-round pick just days after the team pulled off an epic upset of Bill Belichick’s Patriots on the road. But so long as humans play the game, we should always consider the locker room vibes when dissecting trades that move players here, there, and everywhere. And that Poles publicly acknowledged that side of things suggests he knows the game isn’t as easy as switching out interchangeable players.

As for what else went into the deal…

Why Make the Trade?

Sometimes, the best explanations are simple:

“On the business side, it just made too much sense for what we’re trying to do. It’s going to allow us to continue to build a highly competitive roster. … For the future, I think it’s going to give us the ability to continue to grow and build our foundation that we’re trying to build. That’s the exciting part.”

For me, it’s as simple as Poles put it — it just made too much sense.

Quinn is a quality player with an awesome résumé. But at age 32, Quinn wasn’t a long-term fit for this team. And, frankly, a veteran with his colleciton of accolades deserves more than a pass-rushing role for a team more likely to land a top-5 pick than a playoff spot. This isn’t to say the Bears couldn’t make some miraculous playoff run. The NFC is stinky and there are a bunch of teams that could lay claim to the No. 7 playoff spot. But Poles has larger aspirations than watching his team scratch and claw its way to the last playoff spot.

Poles wants more. It is evident in how he discusses this team and its future. He eyes sustained success. And after beating the Patriots in New England on Monday Night Football, Poles’ vision should be clearer now than it was before. What would a team like the Patriots do in a similar situation? I think they’d act the way Poles did with this Quinn trdae.

Let the Kids Play (And the Have Vets Lead Them!)

Poles, like many of us, sounds like he is looking forward to seeing how the young players behind Quinn on the depth chart fill in now that he is gone. This is an enormous opportunity for players like Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson, and even a younger veteran such as Al-Quadin Muhammad to take the wheel and drive. Poles acknowledged that much in explaining his comfort level with those players as a reason he gave the Quinn trade the green light.

“Those guys are going to continue to do a good job,” Poles said. “I really do trust in Gipson. He’s had a good start to the season. Muhammad, he’s brought intensity and toughness to that group, and even young Robinson has flashed and has a promising future.”

Even in losing Quinn, Poles also showed that he has faith in the veterans in the locker room.

“I’m fully confident that the guys, especially on the defensive side,” Poles said. “The Jaylon Johnsons, the Eddie Jacksons, the Roquan Smiths, Justin Joneses. Those guys are going to continue to hold it down and be leaders on that defense and help us continue to perform.”

Maybe it’s just me. But name-checking Johnson, Jackson, and Roquan as leaders for the rest of the year suggests those names won’t be moved ahead of next Tuesday’s NFL Trade Deadline. I know better than to ever say never, but I’d consider it to be unlikely.

Credit For Cunningham

Bears Assistant GM Ian Cunningham is something of a wildcard. On the one hand, he is a respected young executive who is serving as Poles’ right-hand man. And on the other hand, there is a belief in some circles that Cunningham is a front office secret weapon. I’m not wholly sure what that entails, but perhaps we saw it on display in pushing the Quinn trade across the goal line.

“(Cunningham) put a lot of work into this,” Poles said of his Assistant GM’s role in this deal. “Obviously his relationship with (Eagles GM) Howie (Roseman) went a long way. There’s a lot of trust there. I also want to thank Howie for his part as well.”

If you’ll recall, Cunningham was with the Eagles before joining the Bears. There are times that who you know is as important as what you know. And when you combine the two — as Cunningham seems to have done in making this deal go down — you can get trade deadline magic.

For Poles’ full press conference, check out the video below.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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