Ryan Poles’ latest Justin Fields comments make Bears’ QB decision even more mysterious

Ryan Poles’ latest Justin Fields comments make Bears’ QB decision even more mysterious

It’s still early in the process, but nobody has any clue what the Chicago Bears are going to do with the No. 1 overall pick. Just 24 hours after reports emerged that the Bears were considering sticking with Justin Fields in 2024, general manager Ryan Poles muddied the water by discussing how he might trade Fields — and when.

Bears’ GM Ryan Poles said today that, if the team decides to draft a QB with the No. 1 overall pick, he doesn’t think it would be right not to trade Justin Fields before free agency begins. pic.twitter.com/0TkSSpZzoW

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2024

There’s a lot to unpack in this brief clip. Firstly, Poles is directly answering a question — so it’s not like he’s just throwing out there that he might trade Fields. Still, it’s far from a resounding vote of confidence in the quarterback to talk like this. Typically teams will defend their guys, make it clear they’re behind them, but to even reach the point of discussing when Fields would be traded gives credence to the idea the Bears might be leaning that way.

Poles is actually being very fair, and it’s welcome to hear a GM factoring in a player’s needs. If he were to wait to trade Fields until midway through the free agency process it becomes a lot more difficult for teams to have cap space clear to absorb his contract. Additionally, QB-needy teams who might consider Fields may have moved on to address the position in free agency already.

That said, the timing of this is very awkward for Chicago. NFL free agency opens on March 12, which is critical for one main reason: Nobody will get a look at Caleb Williams prior to March 20 at USC’s pro day. The presumptive No. 1 pick, Williams has elected not to participate in the NFL scouting combine workouts or throw for scouts. A team can learn a lot from film alone, but when it comes to selecting a potential franchise quarterback you want as much safety and familiarity as you can possibly get prior to making a decision.

This means that on the Poles timeline the team could conceivably trade Fields before free agency in early March, then not get to see Caleb work out until later in the month. If that meeting doesn’t go well the team is in a rough position, unless of course they believe in Drake Maye.

This is going to be a story to watch all spring as we lead up to the draft. It’s unclear what the Bears will do, or even if the Bears know what they plan to do.

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