The Chicago Bears have done everything they can to signal that quarterback Justin Fields is their guy for the near future, but it sounds as though Bears general manager Ryan Poles is already fairly convinced that Fields will prove to be the franchise’s long-term answer at quarterback, too.
NBC Sports veteran insider Peter King recently shared a few insights about Poles while recapping the first week of 2023 free agency in his Football Morning in America column for March 20, including that the second-year general manager had considered trading down with the Houston Texans before ultimately accepting Carolina’s offer.
While the details of trade discussions were interesting, though, King also buried a little detail about how Poles views Fields — someone who had been the topic of numerous trade rumors throughout the past few months — and his long-term standing in Chicago.
“In the span of two weeks, Poles radically bolstered the offense around Justin Fields while keeping two first-round picks in the bank for next year, if he needs to think about moving on from Fields — which he doubts he’ll have to do,” King wrote.
The fact that King is willing to write that Poles “doubts” he will need to replace Fields at quarterback for 2024 is more telling than it might seem. A longtime NFL insider such as King would not add a detail like that into his column if his conversations with Poles had not directly indicated it was true. And if Poles is projecting such confidence in Fields, it suggests he isn’t thinking too hard about using either of his first-rounders in 2024 on one of the talented quarterbacks that figures to be available.
Point being: The Bears seem to be sold on Fields earning his keep beyond 2023.
Bears Almost Tried Double Trade-Back With Texans
The Bears have now officially passed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft to the Panthers as the latter hopes to find their quarterback of the future, but King also shared that Poles had the opportunity to try a double trade-back before pulling the trigger.
According to King, Poles told him he had “significant discussions” with the Houston Texans about the Bears trading back to the second overall spot in the draft order. He then planned to trade off the No. 2 pick to the Panthers in a similar deal to what they ended up doing, which would have netted them even more capital in the end.
Here’s what King quoted Poles saying about the situation in his March 20 column:
I thought there was an opportunity to do something historically pretty cool with a trade from one to two and two to nine. That had potential to add more draft capital this year, and then the possibility that you’re sitting on three ones in the following year. That had my attention. But my gut told me to trigger on it now. At the combine, I thought those quarterbacks did an outstanding job in their interview process. A lot of teams felt really good about some of those guys, but as you get further away from the combine, maybe there’s a bad pro day or something that turns teams off.
Jalen Carter Could ‘Define’ Ryan Poles’ Bears Legacy
The last thing King touched on about Poles in his column was the massive decision that he could potentially face on the first night of the NFL draft in April: Should he take a risk and select controversial defensive tackle Jalen Carter if he is there at No. 9 overall?
Carter was once considered one of the top two defensive prospects in the 2023 class before a rough month of legal troubles and poor pro-day performance hurt his stock. Now, there seems to be a legitimate chance the Bears — who might have taken Carter at No. 1 overall had they stayed — could have him fall into their hands with the ninth pick. Then again, they could also address their other major roster need and take one of the top two offensive tackles with either Paris Johnson Jr. or Peter Skoronski.
“Poles has to figure out if Carter’s a legit hard-trying football guy or an irresponsible problem person, and whether he’s the kind of person and player he wants to bring in to a building franchise with character and ethos crucial elements to long-term success,” King wrote. “I can’t emphasize how important this is. If Carter is there when Poles picks, he has the kind of decision to make that could define his term as Chicago GM.”