Poles: Bears in better place after trade, free agency moves
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — General manager Ryan Poles acknowledged the temptation to wait and see if the Chicago Bears could get more for the No. 1 overall selection in the draft.
He couldn't pass up the chance to add a star receiver when the Carolina Panthers offered DJ Moore to go with a haul of picks. That's why he decided it was time to make the big move.
“I think at some point, when you feel comfortable with what you're receiving, you pull the trigger,” Poles said Thursday. “Sometimes, you wait too long and things move on. Trades are hard. When you're a part of them and they pop up and you're having those conversations, they're not comfortable conversations when you're moving on from a player. The longer that you're talking about it and thinking about it, you can start to sway a little bit.”
The Bears addressed a big need when they agreed to send the No. 1 pick to Carolina for Moore. Besides giving quarterback Justin Fields a top-tier downfield option, they also got the No. 9 and No. 61 overall picks in 2023 plus a first-rounder in 2024 and a second-rounder in 2025.
Once free agency started this week, Chicago continued to make moves.
The Bears immediately made two additions at linebacker, agreeing Monday to contracts with Buffalo Bills two-time Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds (four years, $72 million, $50 million guaranteed) and former Philadelphia Eagle T.J. Edwards (three years, $19.5 million, $12 million guaranteed).
The Bears also signed former Tennessee guard Nate Davis (three years, $30 million), Titans defensive end DeMarcus Walker and Seattle running back Travis Homer (two years, $4.5 million). And on Thursday, they agreed to a two-year contract with Carolina QB P.J. Walker.
“I thought we did some really good things,” Poles said. “We got better as a football team.”
The Bears certainly had room to improve after setting a franchise record for losses. They went a league-worst 3-14 in their first season under Poles and coach Matt Eberflus.
But there is a palpable optimism surrounding a franchise with just three playoff appearances since the 2006 team reached the Super Bowl.
The Bears still need help on both lines. They attended pro days this week at Northwestern and Georgia, getting looks at Wildcats offensive tackle Peter Skoronski and Bulldogs defensive tackle Jalen Carter — two players who could be available with the No. 9 pick.
Things didn't go well for Carter, who was sprawled out on his back apparently suffering from cramps following position drills. He did not participate in other tests, including the 40-yard dash and broad jump.
On Thursday, Carter was given 12 months’ probation and a $1,000 fine after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing related to a crash that killed Bulldogs offensive lineman Devin Willock and a recruiting staff member.
Poles said the Bears “aren't really there yet” when it comes to deciding if they would draft Carter. But they plan to interview him at Halas Hall.
“Like the combine, it’s a collection of information," Poles said. "We got some there. We got more at the pro day. We’ll bring him in, and talk to him and get to know him even better. Some point in mid-April, we’ll sit down and put it all on the table and see how we want to handle it.”
No matter what other moves they make in free agency and who they take in the draft, Poles insisted the Bears are in a better place after the deals they made.
He “couldn't be happier” with the draft picks from Carolina. But he was “over the moon” about landing Moore, who had 5,201 yards and 21 touchdown catches in five seasons with the Panthers.
Moore was looking forward to working with receivers Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool not to mention developing a rapport with Fields after seeing a revolving door of quarterbacks in Carolina.
“I won’t call that a mess, but (to) come to a better situation with a stable quarterback, the sky’s the limit from there," Moore said.
He wasn't the only one looking forward to having Fields on his side. Walker said the quarterback was a draw for him, and he came away even more impressed after the two chatted in the team's weight room.
“Having a young, talented quarterback who I watched in college and then got to know him and him kinda telling me about myself in the weight room earlier, I'm like OK. That shows his professionalism,” Walker said. “Justin Fields is definitely someone I want to go to battle with.”
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