In the wake of the 2022 season coming to a close, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles is making the media rounds, reflecting on the season that was and looking ahead to the future.
One conversation, in particular, between Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles and team play-by-play voice Jeff Joniak is catching some buzz. And I’d I’d like to talk about it:
Jeff Joniak: I know it’s early in the process, but this is a common term when a team has the No. 1 pick. Are the Chicago Bears open for business?
Ryan Poles: Yeah, we’re always open for business. I think I proved that last year. You know, it was a different part of the draft, but again, value. Does the value make sense? Does it help our organization? And that’s what will be the guideline for us to make those decisions.
That interaction between Poles and Joniak is the attention grabber. The obvious one is his declaration that the Bears are open for business. How could they not be? Poles takes it a step further by discussing what he did last year in creating a bunch of picks for his team with some opportunistic Day 3 trade-backs. The rising second-year general manager might as well have been screaming from the rooftops that the pick is up for bidding and that his track record suggests that he is open to hearing all of your trade offers.
Obviously, that is a good way to go about business. But this is the Bears we’re talking about and they’re not known as a team that does the obvious thing when it is clearly the time to do it.
And to think, that exchange wasn’t the only one to catch my ear:
When asked about to project the Bears’ offseason activity and what it could mean for the bigger perspective, Poles said:
“I think any general manager, any head coach in the NFL just wants flexibility. The ability to acquire more talent, the ability to move around, and really take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. So, it was hard to go through this year not winning a lot of games. At the end of the day, I think we’re in a really healthy place where we have maximum flexibility to improve our team.”
Not that we needed further confirmation, but Poles’ words were strongly hinting at the front office using this past season as an opportunity to clear the decks. Good decision. And a passing grade for the execution of part one of the plan, too. Mission accomplished.
In discussing what offseason spending could look like, Poles added:
“It’s just sound decision-making. Just because you have it, that doesn’t mean you have to go crazy with it. You’ve got to be sound. Does it fit your culture? Do the players fit your scheme? All of those things have to be in play. Are you following value? You don’t want to go crazy and overvalue everybody because you have money. You want to be sound because you want to be flexible not only this year, but also in the future.”
My read here is that there might be some areas in which the Bears are cautious. I can’t blame Poles for trying to not make the mistakes that led him to inherit a messy situation. Of course, this line of thinking cuts multiple ways. Smart spending isn’t bad. But there figures to come a time when you might need to do the uncomfortable thing. For what it’s worth, Poles has done the uncomfortable thing a handful of times since coming to town. Trading pass rusher Robert Quinn after a signature win against the Patriots on Monday Night Football counts. So does doing it again a week later by shipping Roquan Smith (who just got paid, by the way) to the Ravens. These weren’t unanimously popular moves, but they needed to be done.
OK, so let’s circle back to being “open for business” for a moment.
Firstly, Chicago’s football team should be operating with this mindset. Enduring a 14-loss year, then going into the offseason projecting to have more than $100 million in salary cap space, oodles of holes to fill, and the top overall pick should have you in a position to be open to any and all inquiries. Even still … hearing Poles confirm the Bears’ “open for business” stance was encouraging. After all, we’re not that far removed from the Ryan Pace days. I didn’t like it any more than you did when he was treating everything like a big secret. Poles is a breath of fresh air. But it might not always be this way, so enjoy it while you can.
We’re only days into the Bears’ offseason and I just want to hit the “SIM PLAYOFFS” button and get to the good part already. Sheesh!