Ryan Poles had straightforward goals for his second offseason as the Bears’ general manager.
“The goal going into this offseason deal was to improve our roster now but also stay flexible in the future so we can stay healthy, opportunistic and continue to get better because obviously, we know this process takes some to do it the right way.,” Poles said. “And I thought we set ourselves up nicely to do that.”
Poles met with reporters inside Halas Hall to answer a series of questions regarding the moves he has made so far in free agency.
Here are the top four takeaways from his Thursday press conference.
Why the Bears made the trade with the Panthers
The Bears had conversations with many different teams about the possibility of trading the No.1 overall pick. All the variables between the various teams, compensation, etc. made trading the first pick in the draft a process the Bears needed to be patient with.
But Poles said he and Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer stayed in constant communication with each other.
“He (Fitterer) made it clear that he wanted to be a part of anything if we decided to move,” Poles said.
The needle mover, however, that made the trade happen was wide receiver DJ Moore. Poles highlighted that adding a player of Moore’s ability helps the Bears get better right now.
“I was over the moon about that,” Poles said. “And not only getting a great player but when you get to know DJ in a few minutes, you will understand he’s a really good person. He fits our culture and what we’re trying to do and keeps that room and our team and our locker room in a really good place.”
Why the Bears didn’t land Orlando Brown Jr.
One of the biggest names entering free agency was offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. The Super Bowl champion left tackle didn’t end up signing with a new team until late Wednesday night. The Bengals reportedly signed Brown to a four-year, $64.092 million contract.
Many thought the Bears would be interested in Brown this offseason, especially given that Poles was with Brown while he was in Kansas City. Poles was asked why Brown wasn’t a fit for the Bears.
“Yeah I’m not going to get into the specific player, but the scheme match is a big deal there,” Poles said.
In this wide-zone scheme, the offensive linemen need to be able to move and that’s tougher to do when you’re a 6-foot-8, 345-pound tackle like Brown.
And for Poles and his scouting staff, it all goes back to values and what the team’s parameters are for certain positions.
“Yeah I will stick to this: It comes down to value and where we felt comfortable with our research, our evaluations, analytics, all of that,” Poles said. “You know there was a certain point where we were comfortable with based on the value and the evaluation that we had. And if it surpassed that, we were OK with moving on.
Possible shuffling on the offensive line
Newest offensive lineman Nate Davis played only at right guard while he was with the Titans for four seasons.
If Davis were to do the same in Chicago, that would mean Teven Jenkins would have to move positions for the second-straight season.
Here is what Poles said about where Davis could play on the Bears’ offensive line.
“Yeah, so, um, with the O-line, I’ll stick to this, we’re going to put the best front five up there, but I also think there’s some flexibility and some conversations where Cody (Whitehair) could work some center,” Poles said. “He’s got almost 4,000 snaps there. Had some good seasons there. So we’re going to move it around a little bit and see if we can get the best like front three possible.”
Poles didn’t provide much about Davis, but Whitehair moving back to center is definitely newsworthy. The last time Whitehair played center was in Week 10 against the Vikings in the 2020 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
If the Bears decide to make that move, the question then becomes, who will play left guard?
Why Tremaine Edmunds fits the Bears’ defense
One of the most important attributes for any defensive player in this Bears defense is the ability to create turnovers, especially at the linebacker position. Coach Matt Eberflus had one of the best in the game in Indianapolis with Shaquille Leonard.
After the Bears moved on from Roquan Smith, Poles’ biggest move in free agency was to sign another linebacker from the 2018 draft class that Smith was a part of — Tremaine Edmunds.
In five seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Edmunds only created seven total turnovers (five interceptions and two forced fumbles), which was less than Smith’s eight while he was in Chicago (seven interceptions and one forced fumble.
Even though Poles wouldn’t go into comparing the two linebackers, the Bears’ general manager still likes Edmunds and what he is capable of doing in this scheme.
“Yeah, the length, the speed, the coverage ability in terms of just the space that he covers and Matt and his group think they can take him over the edge with some of the ball production,” Poles said.