Lake Forest, Ill.– The last 48 hours for Chicago Bears fans have been bittersweet, to say the least. Thursday afternoon saw first-year general manager Ryan Poles ship off star pass rusher Khalil Mack for a pair of draft picks while Friday brought the release of Eddie Goldman and Tarik Cohen, two longtime foundational pieces of the Ryan Pace era.
On the surface, Poles big moves indicate the Bears are ready to punt on 2022 and are already looking ahead to 2023. The greater significance of moving on from players like Mack is using draft capital and newly created salary cap space to build around second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
During his introductory press conference, Poles spoke about wanting to take the NFC North and never give it back. For the Bears, that represents not just being competitive for two or three seasons but taking a page out of the Green Bay Packers book and running the division for multiple decades.
Moving on from Mack, Cohen, and Goldman was inevitable at some point over the next few years for the Bears. But Poles is willing to accelerate the rebuild. The bigger question now becomes, how will Poles plan to build around Fields? With free agency set to begin, will Poles get ready to swing for the fences and consider beefing up the offensive line while using the NFL Draft to surround Fields with playmakers? It’s a strategy that could pay off for Chicago if both the free agent class and rookie class pan out.
What’s happening in Chicago isn’t just another rebuild. Poles’ roots in Kansas City, a timeframe that spans back nearly 12 years in a franchise that’s been to two of the last three Super Bowls have allowed the Bears’ GM to see what it takes to build a championship caliber team on the heels of elite quarterback play. In an era where the NFL is driven by offense and elite quarterback play, Poles understands the significance of both and is ready to ensure the Bears reach those heights and get back to relevancy.