In his first season as Chicago Bears general manager, Ryan Poles has had to deal with a great deal.
When Ryan Poles accepted the offer to replace Ryan Pace as the Chicago Bears general manager he knew it was a tall task. The Bears had an aging roster that struggled to win games. In addition, there were some contracts that served as an albatross. Without making some hard decisions the latest rebuild would be difficult to get off the ground.
In addition to the contract situation, Poles inherited a team that didn’t have many draft picks. In order to have a successful rebuild, a team needs to have good drafts. The Bears only had five draft picks when Poles took over.
Poles spent a lot of time learning a lot of things working in the Kansas City Chiefs front office. He felt he was finally ready to strike out on his own and be the guy leading a team. With his assistance, the Chiefs went from a struggling franchise to one that challenges for the Super Bowl year in and year out.
However, Poles found out how much more he has to deal with as a general manager. Some of it doesn’t even have anything to do with on-field things.
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Poles’ baptism by fire
I already listed some of the difficulties that Poles had to go through when he took over. Additionally, he had to deal with so much more. Here is just some of what he’s had to deal with.
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- He agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million deal with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. Ogunjobi was supposed to anchor the new-look defensive line. However, Ogunjobi was coming off foot surgery. He ended up failing the physical and Poles had to nix the deal.
- While the fans wanted him to sign some high-profile players, Poles stuck to his plan on signing low-cost players who will play hard. The fans don’t even recognize some of the new players on the roster and many weren’t happy about it.
- Wide receivers Byron Pringle and David Moore, and linebacker Matthew Adams all got arrested on various charges.
- He found himself firing Lamar “Soup” Campbell. Campbell was part of the group of executives and consultants that hired Poles as the general manager.
Seeing some of the things that Poles had to deal with, some fans think that this is the same old story for the Chicago Bears. They feel that the team took a bad first step under Poles.
Poles handles the problems like a seasoned veteran
To his credit, it doesn’t seem that Poles is affected very much by all the controversies.
- After Ogunjobi failed his physical, Poles quickly moved to replace him with Justin Jones.
- He cleared a lot of money by cutting popular players and signing others to small, low-salary deals. Now, the Bears currently have the second-highest salary cap space for this season ($20.7 million) and have the highest space for next season ($96.1 million). While the 2022 season might not be filled with many victories, Poles set the team up for free agency success moving forward.
We have yet to see what, if anything, Poles does to the players who got arrested. To be fair, none of them was charged with any felonies. Yes, it looks bad to have three players arrested but they weren’t dealing with the problems like sexual assault or domestic violence cases that plagued the league over the past several years.
Additionally, Poles hasn’t addressed the Campbell firing. Perhaps there was a good reason for the firing. Whatever happened, the Bears wanted to keep this in-house. They want this to be a private matter.
Poles has shown that he can handle the pressure of being a general manager. There will be high points and low points. Poles shows that he won’t get too high or too low in how he handles what comes his way.
Furthermore, especially in the Campbell situation, it is refreshing to see the autonomy the McCaskey family gave Poles. They said Poles runs the organization and that they won’t interfere. So far, they’ve been true to their word. The fact that Poles had the authority to fire someone who had a hand in his hiring shows that Poles is the one with all the power at Halas Hall.
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