There’s an adage that says failing to prepare is preparing to fail. And in the case of roster building in the NFL, the best general managers are the ones who are always looking ahead at the upcoming class of free agents and draft prospects when making current decisions about the roster.
Bears GM Ryan Poles proved with his trade for WR Chase Claypool that he’s one step ahead in Chicago’s rebuild.
Conventional thinking would suggest the Bears will be big spenders in free agency next offseason because of their league-high salary cap space. And with so much money to spend, Poles can fix the Bears’ wide receiver problem by signing the biggest ticket or two at the position. But a closer look at the upcoming class of free-agent receivers tells a different story. There’s no game-changer, no alpha, no legitimate WR1 who will be on the open market.
Poles did his homework and, as a result, decided now was the time to act if the Bears wanted any chance at solving one of their roster’s biggest problems.
“You have to do a little bit of forecasting down the road, and I just didn’t feel comfortable with that,” Poles said of next year’s free agents.
Maintaining momentum is important too. QB Justin Fields is on a bit of a heater over the last month of the season, but he can’t continue making all the plays on offense. He needs help. Enter Claypool.
“I like the way Justin is trending,” Poles said, “and I think adding another big body who is physical, explosive, great leaping ability, can stretch the field but is also violent with the ball in his hand and as a blocker, I think that enhances everyone.”
The Bears already checked off one of their biggest 2023 priorities. And they did it at the midseason mark in 2022. That’s incredible work by Chicago’s front office, who can turn their attention toward the offensive line and pass rush in free agency.
The 2023 NFL draft will offer the Bears more opportunities to add playmakers for Fields and the offense. But with Claypool locked in, the Chicago Bears can focus their resources elsewhere this winter and spring.