Trading

Bears GM Ryan Poles doesn’t rule out trading Justin Fields: ‘I have no master plan to present’

INDIANAPOLIS – Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles didn’t say outright that he’s trading quarterback Justin Fields when he met the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday.

But he didn’t rule it out, either.

The more he talked about Fields, the more it became clear that moving him is a real option or scenario that’s being considered by the Bears, who have the first pick in the NFL Draft and could select USC star QB Caleb Williams.

“It just depends on what opportunities pop up.” Poles said. “I will say this, I think you guys know me well enough now, if we go down that road, I want to do right by Justin as well. No one wants to live in gray. I know that’s uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation, either. So we will gather the information, we will move as quickly as possible, we are not going to be in a rush and see what presents itself and what’s best for the organization.”

Everything is on the table for Poles and the Bears, and Tuesday was not going to be a big reveal of his plan.

“Contrary to reports out there, I have no master plan to present to everyone today,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to continue to gather information, learn about the different players in the draft, listen to what opportunities could come up, and then at the end of the day, we’re going to make the best decision that we can for the Chicago Bears.”

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Last year, the Bears were in the same spot — holding the No. 1 pick and Fields. Poles said that while this time around is “unique,” the process is going to be the same.

“I would say our approach is exactly the same in terms of, we’ve got to look at every option and determine what is best for our team,” he said. “Obviously, we chose to trade back last year and I think that that helped our team out a lot. So, again, we’ll do a deep dive and see how it plays out.”

Fields has been praised often by his teammates, especially receiver DJ Moore. Poles said that is part of the Bears’ evaluation as they consider their options.

“He’s a leader,” Poles said. “Everything our guys have said is true, and not surprised our guys have said what they said. I feel the same way. I think sometimes this whole thing gets — is it’s Justin versus another person and I have to look at it a little bit differently. I take that into effect.

“That’s why the person is so important when we evaluate all the people that would come in at that position. But also it’s my job to think of the long term and a lot of our guys kind of don’t see that. It’s not their job to do that and they defend their guy, which I think speaks volumes about our culture in that locker room.”

The NFL, though, does seem to be waiting on Poles. At the very least, teams have started to feel him out. It started at the Senior Bowl.

“I know people were kind of poking around,” Poles said. “I haven’t had like big-time conversations with anyone. But everyone wants to take the temperature of what’s going on.”

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Poles has had conversations with cornerback Jaylon Johnson’s representatives. Johnson, who went to the Pro Bowl last season, is set to be a free agent. Poles wants to avoid using the franchise tag.

“We feel like we’ve done a really good job coming to the table strong and showing the respect that he’s due just in terms of his production through his career and really an emphasis on the turnovers he created this past year,” Poles said. “Our expectation is that’s going to continue to go as he’s with the Bears.

“When I say come strong, that means cash flows are strong, guarantees are strong, the term is strong for him; being with his age, there’s a really good opportunity to go back to the market again and continue to earn money and play well and hopefully that’s with the Bears for a long period of time, so I’m excited about that.”

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(Photo: Quinn Harris / Getty Images)

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