Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles may have a genius free agency strategy

Chicago Bears (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports) /

Historically, the Chicago Bears actually spend a good amount of money early on in free agency. Former general manager Ryan Pace may not have used that money particularly well, per say, but he’s spent it.

So far, in Ryan Poles’ first year as general manager and with his first opportunity at NFL free agency, he’s been pretty laid back.

The only huge signing, as it stands, is defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi — who fits this new 4-3 defense perfectly as the 3-technique. Ogunjobi agreed to a 3-year deal worth $40.5 million, making him the 9th highest-paid defensive tackle in football.

But, while other teams continue to spend, Poles has been cool, calm and collected while allowing his peers to empty their checkbooks. And, when looking at the grand scheme of things, Poles just might be onto something.

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles could be onto something many fans aren’t thinking about during NFL free agency.

It’s been obvious that Poles is being patient. He’s went on record with his purpose during this week, and that’s to stick to his price point. He will not overpay for a player if their price tag is higher than what he has them valued.

For once, it’s refreshing to hear such transparency. The Bears are going to be set up nicely for free agency in 2023 (roughly $140 million in cap space before 2022 free agency began). But, Poles could be thinking even deeper. NFL insider Benjamin Allbright brings up a great point about Poles’ possible mindset in his first year.

As a former lineman himself, Poles is definitely going to build the trenches. That has to be priority on both sides of the football, not just on offense.

But, when it comes to other positions, he very well could stick to those short-term deals that would result in the Bears getting awarded several compensatory picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

That, folks, is forward thinking.

Poles has understood, from the beginning, that the Bears are not set up to compete in 2022. This roster needed an overhaul, and he needed additional capital, thus he traded Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Now, it’s clear his vision is set on next year while purposefully adding pieces to the roster in 2022.

If the Bears can get through this offseason adding a couple of long-term pieces, here and there, that’s great. The draft is where Poles will find the majority of those players. But, the 2023 offseason is where he is setting this team up to do some major damage.

Next year, the Bears are slated to have eight draft picks and a whole lot of money to spend in free agency. Let’s say the Bears also end up with two or three comp picks next year — that gives them double-digit picks. We haven’t seen that type of draft haul in Chicago in what seems like forever. The Bears haven’t come away with double-digit picks since 2008.

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Fans may be upset that he’s not spending so far this week, but Poles is playing this the right way. Patience and planning are key to building around Justin Fields, going forward, and that’s exactly what Poles is demonstrating.