Former Bears Starter Influenced GM & Head Coach Hires: Report

Matt Eberflus

Getty Bears coach Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles both have the same agent: former Bears DL Trace Armstrong.

Former NFL player Trace Armstrong started 87 games at defensive end for the Chicago Bears from 1989-94. A huge part of the team’s d-line for six seasons, Armstrong registered double-digit sacks twice in his memorable tenure with the team. According to a recent report by Pro Football Network’s Adam H. Beasley, Armstrong also had a big hand in new general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus heading to the Windy City.

The Bears, led by team chairman George McCaskey, hired Poles in January. Poles was said to have complete autonomy in his selection of Eberflus as the team’s 17th head coach, but Beasley’s report calls that into question.

Per Beasley, current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was one of the moat-interviewed coaching candidates this offseason, thought he had the Bears head coaching gig wrapped up — but that didn’t happen because Armstrong had something to say about it.

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Eberflus & Poles Both Have Armstrong as an Agent

The Bears announced on January 22 they had interviewed Quinn for the head coaching position vacated by Matt Nagy, and Beasley noted Quinn “was one of at least 10 options to replace Matt Nagy. But those hopes were ultimately undermined by the Bears’ decision to hire Ryan Poles as general manager.”

That decision, according to Beasley, came after Armstrong made his pitch for Poles to be the team’s next GM.

“Poles and Eberflus are both represented by Athletes First agent Trace Armstrong, who is one of the most influential under-the-radar powerbrokers in all of football,” Beasley wrote.

A sports agent for Athletes First whose clients have included Steve Young, Chip Kelly and Jason Garrett, Armstrong has a reputation for being one of the best in the business, and Beasley says the agent and former Bears d-lineman had a great deal of influence over McCaskey’s decision to hire Poles.

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Armstrong ‘Persuaded’ Bears to Hire Poles & Eberflus

Arguably the most eyebrow-raising part of Beasley’s report came when he suggested Armstrong essentially convinced McCaskey and company who to hire:

“Armstrong not only convinced the McCaskey family to take a chance on Poles, but he also persuaded them to make Eberflus part of the package deal,” he wrote.

It sounds as though Poles wanted Eberflus as his coach from the beginning — and as an agent representing them both, Armstrong had more than a tad to gain if they both got gigs in Chicago.

After hiring Poles and Eberflus in January, McCaskey said this:

“Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus both possess the qualities we’re looking for in our team,” McCaskey said in January at a press conference announcing the new hirings. “Tough. Gritty. Smart. Opportunistic. Winners.”

Time will tell if those things are true, and whether McCaskey and the Bears made the correct decision. If the Bears’ chairman is so easily influenced, though, that doesn’t exactly bode well for the future of the franchise.

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