FOREST LAKE, Ill. – Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Powles said he expected Justin Fields to be the team’s starting quarterback next season and nearly slammed the door on him with the first overall pick.
The Poles left him slightly ajar on Tuesday, saying he would have to “deflate” to take a passerby.
Quarterbacks like Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, and Kentucky’s Will Lewis are some of the most promising players available in the draft.
Fields, who finished 11th overall in 2021, emerged as one of the NFL’s highlights in his second season. But he was drafted by former general manager Ryan Pace, not the Poles.
“We are delighted with his development and where he will go next. He has demonstrated the ability to kick,” Powles said. “His hand is on fire. Now if we can put it together, I think we’ll have something really good.”
The Bears (3-14) ended one of the worst seasons in franchise history when the Minnesota Vikings beat them on Sunday. They set a franchise record for losses in a season and extended it by losing their 10th game in a row. Only the 1969 team had the worst record, going 1-13.
Minnesota defeat in conjunction with Houston last-minute victory over Indianapolis gave the Bears first overall pick for the first time since 1947. They took Oklahoma State linebacker Bob Fenimore, who had only played in 10 NFL games due to injuries.
Now all eyes are on the Poles. Along with the top pick, he has about $118 million in salary cap to start building a roster after he and coach Matt Eberfluss were hired a year ago to replace the fired Pace and Matt Nagy.
The Bears could trade multiple draft positions with a team looking for a quarterback and still get a blue-chip player like Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia guard Jalen Carter if they don’t pick either. of them. project. Chicago needs a pass rusher and defensive help, and every player will help fill the gap.
The Bears finished 29th on defense and 31st on offense. They were last in sacks at 20 sacks, the lowest since the 2003 team had 18 sacks.
“I think we have really good flexibility to help this team, whether it’s making a choice here, stepping back a little, or stepping back far,” Powles said. “We will be open to everything.”
Fields, meanwhile, has shone this season.
He rushed for 1,143 yards in 15 games and might have broken the NFL single-season rushing record of 1,206 yards set by Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson in 2019 had he not missed the Finals with a sprained hip.
But it remains to be seen if he can transform into the passerby that the Bears need him to be. He was 25th in the NFL with an 85.2 rating, throwing for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“He showed the ability to be a playmaker,” Powles said. “Be effective. He can quickly change games. Does he have room to grow? He does. He needs to get better as a passer and I’m excited to see him take those steps as we move forward.”
A weak receiver group and a line that barely defended him didn’t make Fields’ job any easier. The Poles were also out last offseason when he turned to other areas instead of hiring a playmaker or two for his quarterback. Again, he had a long to-do list.
“I thought we used the resources that we had to the best of our ability, based on what was there,” he said. “I wish there was a perfect scenario where you could just take everything out and fix everything. So I thought we made a firm and sensible decision to do it.”
The Poles acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool from Pittsburgh on November 1 for this year’s second-round pick. But he struggled after the trade. It didn’t help that he and Fields got into trouble and missed several games.
“I told Chase and we had a really good conversation, I don’t blink at all,” Poles said. “I think he will help us move forward and I’m excited about that.”
Poles said he also hopes to re-sign running back David Montgomery, whose rookie contract expires after four seasons in Chicago.
“Of course I realized that you can want a player and the value has to come together to make that happen,” Powles said. “I like the way he attacked this season. This is a guy who does everything right.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL.
Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.