Bears GM Candidate Damned Kirk Cousins With Final Decision: Insider

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings looks down after a play in the first half of the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

While the new Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is taking a measured approach with what he’s calling a “competitive rebuild” of the franchise, there was an alternative path.

The other general manager finalist, Ryan Poles, was apparently ownership’s first choice after an “impressive interview” in January.

“From a few conversations I had this morning, my understanding is that the Vikings want Ryan Poles to be their next GM but it might depend on whether Chicago makes him a better offer. So we wait and see,” Purple Insider’s Matthew Coller tweeted on January 22.

Poles ultimately chose the Chicago Bears over the Vikings. Several reasons have circulated over the past months between the conditions of each roster, ownership expectations and, of course, money.

However, a Bears insider revealed an interesting piece of information on how Poles viewed both teams’ quarterback situations, which had heavy sway in his decision.

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Poles Would Have Ditched Cousins, Prefers Fields, Insider Says

Ryan Poles

GettyGeneral manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears looks on prior to a preseason game.

Jeff Hughes of Da Bears Blog, isn’t just any blogger. He’s become one of the most accurate insiders in the Chicago media landscape over the past few years.

While national media sources touted that the Bears would keep former Chicago general manager Ryan Pace, Hughes maintained that his sources told him that Pace and head coach Matt Nagy would be fired following the team in recent years.

Hughes shared some revealing information about why Poles took the GM job in Chicago over Minnesota.

A source revealed Poles is a fan of Justin Fields, who was the primary reason Poles chose Chicago over Minnesota. Hughes was told that Poles wanted to try his luck with Fields instead of working with current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“Ryan could have taken the Minnesota job, convinced them to move on from Kirk, which wouldn’t have been that hard, and drafted his own quarterback next year in a great quarterback class. He didn’t. He thinks Fields can be his guy. I agree with him. But he has the luxury of being able to move on from Fields too,” Hughes wrote in a July 19 column.

Poles picking Fields over Cousins isn’t to say he believes Fields is better than Cousins. However, Fields offers upside as a developing quarterback on a rookie deal that he can build a team around with ample cap space. Fields’ average cap hit through the 2024 season is 5.15 million, per Over the Cap, compared to Cousins’ $33.84 million average cap hit over the next two years.

While the Bears are in a full rebuild under Poles, they have options with a quarterback on an inexpensive rookie deal. Chicago is projected to have the largest amount of cap space in the NFL next season with over $90 million in cap space to spend, per Over the Cap, giving Poles several routes to rebuilding the roster with both existing and outside talent.

Meanwhile, the Vikings, who haven’t had a winning record since 2019, are nearly in the red on their 2023 cap sheet and are banking on the existing roster, budget veteran additions and rookies to have a turnaround season with a breath of fresh air from the new coaching staff.

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Vikings Double Down on Kirk

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Courtesy of VikingsKwesi Adofo-Mensah doubled down on Kirk Cousins by inking the veteran quarterback to a one-year contract extension in the offseason.

Hughes’ report contradicts a prevailing rumor that ownership put an emphasis on keeping Cousins.  If Poles could have “convinced” the Vikings move on from the veteran quarterback, Minnesota would likely be in a similar situation in Chicago — bracing for a lackluster 2022 season and hedging bets for the future.

Instead, the Vikings enter the 2022 season all-in, again. The championship window as realized when the 2017 Vikings made the NFC conference title game with a third-string quarterback and without their starting running back in Dalvin Cook. That run was on the shoulders of the league’s No. 1-ranked defense, which has since atrophied into one of the worst units over the past two seasons.

The Vikings have just four starters who made that run remaining on their roster in Adam Thielen, Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith. It’s an entirely new team that the new regime took over, with Cousins atop the cap sheet.

And with Cousins receiving a one-year contract extension, Adofo-Mensah appears ready to make a run in the next two years before reassessing the franchise’s future — primarily starting with the quarterback position.

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