The 2022 Calendar Year could not have gone any better for the Chicago Bears. That might seem like a crazy statement to make for a team that currently only has three wins and is in the midst of an 8-game losing streak but the plan has gone perfectly for first-year general manager Ryan Poles.
In January, the morale of the Bears was at an all-time low. The rookie season of quarterback Justin Fields was wasted because head coach Matt Nagy treated Fields like a developmental quarterback instead of a quarterback that shined at one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
While the development or lack thereof for Fields during 2021 wasn’t the leading reason why Nagy was fired in January along with general manager Ryan Pace, it certainly played into the decision.
Enter Poles and new head coach Matt Eberflus. Poles spent the offseason tearing down the Bears’ roster, shredding hefty contract after hefty contract from the Bears payroll and that has led to the team entering 2023 with the most cap space of any team in the NFL with $119,438,666 in available cap space according to Spotrac. That was the first victory of 2022 for the Bears.
2022 has actually been a great year for the Chicago Bears franchise.
When Poles was first introduced as the team’s general manager, he emphasized the importance of building through the draft.
Poles did not have a first-round draft pick at his disposal during the 2022 NFL Draft and ultimately utilize trade backs during the draft to compile a full arsenal of selections.
Still, his predecessor’s preference for using draft picks as trade capital limited what Poles was able to do during the impact rounds of his first draft as the team’s general manager.
That won’t be an issue for Poles and the Bears for the 2023 NFL Draft. The Bears are currently slotted to have the second overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft and could be a Houston Texans’ victory in the next two weeks away from having the first overall selection.
Whether the Bears use that draft selection to add an impact talent such as Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr or to trade back and compile more impact draft selections, that was the second victory of 2022 for the team.
The third and most important victory for the Bears is that Fields has emerged as the undoubted answer for the team at the quarterback position. In 2021, the Bears were a Peter Carroll opinion away from acquiring Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The deal was just about finalized before Carroll nixed the trade. Wilson has since been traded to the Denver Broncos and signed a five-year, $242MM contract that the Broncos have had instant buyer’s remorse given the regression of the veteran quarterback this season.
Fields, meanwhile, has thrived to the point where he is likely to receive legitimate MVP consideration at the start of the next season.
The final victory for the Bears of 2022 is the likelihood that current Big 10 commissioner Kevin Warren will be the next team President and CEO of the organization.
Current Bears’ president Ted Phillips is set to retire in February and Warren would be the answer to Bears’ fans’ needs for much of the past decade.
Warren would be a team president that has a football background but also the business intellect to facilitate the team’s move to Arlington Heights.
Poles promised in January that the Bears would take back the NFC North and with the year that team had in 2022, the foundation has certainly been laid for that to become true.