It’s been quite the offseason for the Chicago Bears and general manager Ryan Poles. Armed with the most money to spend in free agency and the No. 1 overall pick, the Bears dominated headlines from February to April.
There were great expectations for Poles and the Bears this offseason, too. Poles’ first year on the job was a free pass. He had to tear down the roster in 2022 so he could begin to rebuild it in his vision this year. And now that he’s gone through a cycle of free agency and a critical 10-player draft class, an evaluation of the evaluator will commence once the 2023 season begins.
Let’s look at which of Ryan Poles’ 2023 offseason moves has a chance to be the best decision, and which one could be the worst.
Worst Decision (so far): Failing to add an edge rusher in free agency or NFL Draft
Believe it or not, the NFL offseason is far from over. Teams will continue adding veterans and undrafted rookies to the roster before training camp, so there’s a chance this ‘worst decision’ can be erased by Poles in the coming weeks.
But until he adds a viable pass rusher, his failure to sign a quality free agent or spend an early-round pick on an edge defender is a big problem.
The Chicago Bears finished last in sacks in 2022 and, as of now, will run it back with the same cluster of underwhelming pass rushers.
DeMarcus Walker was added in free agency, and he has a chance to elevate the Bears’ edge defenders. But he’s more of a physical enforcer than a speedy sack artist. And that’s what this defense is missing.
Perhaps Poles has confidence in Dominque Robinson’s offseason development and thinks he can emerge as a force in 2023. Maybe it’s Trevis Gipson who needs another season in coach Matt Eberflus’ defense to break out. But those are a lot of ifs and maybes; the Bears need an established pass rusher, or the rest of the defense will suffer.