Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles spoke to the media shortly after he traded away linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens, but he recently shed more light on how the trade has helped his team.
Poles sent Smith to the Ravens on October 31 in exchange for linebacker AJ Klein and 2023 second- and fifth-round picks. The Bears have since cut Klein, but they benefitted from the additional pick in Round 2, as they later sent their own 2023 second-rounder to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for wide receiver Chase Claypool.
“There’s a part of me that’s bummed because this was a guy that I thought was going to be here for a long time,” Poles said in October immediately after trading Smith, per the team’s official website. “I felt like we put a lot of effort forward to get that done and we came up short. We couldn’t find common ground. And that’s just part of the business, which I think we all understand.”
Over two weeks later, on the November 15 episode of The Season with Peter Schrager podcast, Poles spoke in more detail about what the Roquan trade ultimately means.
Poles on Smith Trade: It Helped Us Get WR Chase Claypool
Chicago’s first-year general manager is the youngest GM in the NFL, and he discussed the difficulties of doing what’s best for the team in the present while also trying to do what’s best for the team in the future.
“That’s the tough part about this position is that you constantly have to balance today versus down the road,” Poles told Schrager, noting he and the team put a ton of thought into the decision to trade Smith.
“We really took a lot of time with that,” Poles said. “We just felt like it was in our best interest to do something now that could benefit our team moving forward.”
Trading Smith gave the Bears a second pick in Round 2 of the 2023 draft, and Poles admitted that may have helped Chicago the most, because it gave them the ammunition to add a weapon for quarterback Justin Fields.
“It is really difficult to move a guy that is a leader in your locker room, but that’s why I have this job is I have to make hard decisions that I hope will benefit our team for a long time. We did that and that helped us acquire Chase Claypool, who’s coming along, he’s learning the offense right now. That should enhance our offense, enhance our quarterback and make our team better as we move along.”
Claypool Should See Larger Role in Coming Weeks
Poles admitting the Smith trade helped the team shows he’s prioritizing the future, which Claypool could become a big part of.
The third-year wide receiver has caught just three passes for 21 yards in his two games with the Bears, but the more he and Fields work together, the more their rapport will grow.
“The opportunities will just continue to grow,” Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said about Claypool and his role in the offense, via 670 The Score. “His role will continue to grow. We’re on the right track.”
Trading Smith away may not have been a popular move with fans, but Bears Nation should seek solace in the fact that they have a forward-thinking GM who isn’t going to act on any whims.