Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ryan Poles Almost Lost Two Of His Top Lieutenants At The Same Time


A general manager is only as good as the people he puts around him. Being a smart GM is a good thing. However, having equally intelligent people in your front office can be a huge advantage. It appears the NFL has become aware that the Chicago Bears GM did precisely that when he retooled the front office in 2022. People may not have understood at the time how well-respected Ryan Poles’ top lieutenants were by other teams, but that came into focus a few weeks ago after the regular season came to an end.

According to Adam Hoge of CHGO, assistant GM Ian Cunningham was a finalist for the Washington Commanders GM job. It marked the second straight off-season he came close to running his own team. What many Bears fans didn’t know at the time is he wasn’t the only one. Jeff King, co-director of player personnel, also nearly claimed a GM job with the Los Angeles Chargers. In the end, both organizations went with different candidates.

It was two huge bullets dodged for the Bears ahead of a pivotal off-season.

“The Bears are not only fortunate to retain assistant general manager Ian Cunningham, but they were also in danger of losing co-director of player personnel Jeff King last month. King was a very serious candidate for the Los Angeles Chargers general manager job. In fact, when Jim Harbaugh got the head coaching job with the Chargers, some close to the situation expected King to join Harbaugh in Los Angeles. Instead, Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz got the job, mostly due to the trust built with Jim’s brother, John Harbaugh, in Baltimore.

With Cunningham being a finalist for the Commanders GM job and King nearly getting the Chargers GM job, the Bears’ front office under general manager Ryan Poles remains one of the more respected groups in the NFL right now.”

Ryan Poles can only feel relief at this moment.

He may get most of the credit for the Bears’ moves, but he isn’t stupid. A lot of his success comes from trusting guys like Cunningham and King with key evaluations during each off-season. Chicago had an excellent 2023 run. Free agency saw them land T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, and DeMarcus Walker. Then Darnell Wright, Gervon Dexter, and Tyrique Stevenson came in the draft. King even added some additional garnish by pushing for quarterback Tyson Bagent in undrafted free agency. Those players all played pivotal roles in helping the Bears improve from 3-14 to 7-10.

Now King and Cunningham will stick around for March and April, which might be the most crucial in the past decade for the Bears. Ryan Poles has a chance to completely remake the identity of this team with two picks in the top 10 and over $60 million in salary cap space. One of those picks figures to be a quarterback. Every GM lives for this moment. Poles’ predecessors all failed this test. If he can deliver a hit, the Bears will be set up for years of success. Having two trusted friends in the building for one more year could prove decisive.

Subscribe to the BFR podcast and ride shotgun with Dave and Ficky as they break down Bears football like nobody else.


Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Feb 18, 2024 10:41 am

@Veece @jmscooby @Slip Knotz Velus Jones and Dominique Robinson (as well as Tyler Scott and the regression of Darrell Mooney) were the most immediate indicators that the Bears weren’t coaching. Seeing progress of some players in some positions (Braxton Jones and Darnell Wright on one side and Gervon Dexter, Stevenson and Terrell Smith) showed some coaches were coaching, but overall, giving the coaches two years to do almost nothing was unforgivable. Watching Justin Fields’ inconsistent development simply indicated extremely poor coaching with someone who was trying to develop himself amidst incoherence. I think the year-end firings and hirings were right.… Read more »

Feb 18, 2024 10:31 am

It cannot be overstated the value coming out of some of the NFL legacy families. Jim and John Harbaugh have been helping to develop each others’ coaches for years. McDonald (now head coach at Seattle) was an assistant who had not run a major defense before and Jim’s Michigan defense was stagnant with Don Brown. John loaned his brother McDonald for a year to run the Michigan defense (and be assisted by Jesse Minter) before going back to the Ravens the past few years. Minter I believe left Michigan to revamp the Chargers defense with Jim. But you also see… Read more »

Feb 18, 2024 8:34 am

They can win their jobs in camp. I like to give players time to fully develop. I wouldn’t want them to go to other teams and become their starting QB, I mean, a contributor.

Feb 18, 2024 6:27 am

@Slip Knotz Totally agree. Robinson and Velus must go. Can’t have useless dead space.
It is always a good thing to have proven and competent evaluators around a GM. With Poles lieutenants still in place, he must make the most of it in this year’s draft because Cunningham and King could both be gone next year.

Slip Knotz
Slip Knotz
Feb 17, 2024 11:03 pm

OK good. I have high expectations that players will be evaluated correctly then.

Let’s stop with the retention of Dom Robinson, Velus Jones, and other players who don’t really contribute.

Let’s get this roster to a logical place where everyone knows they need to best the other guy if they want to be a starter.

Is that too much too ask?

Chicago SportsNEWS
Recommended for you

Give us your thoughts.x