Bears Want to Do the Right Thing by Justin Fields

Bears Want to “Do the Right Thing” by Justin Fields; QB call coming asap

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    Courtney Cronin, ESPN Staff Writer February 27, 2024, 12:11 p.m. ET


      Courtney Cronin joined ESPN in 2017 and originally covered the Minnesota Vikings before moving to the Chicago Bears in 2022. Courtney is a frequent panelist on Around the Horn and host of Best Week Ever on ESPN Radio. She also co-hosts the Chicago Bears Podcast on ESPN 1000. She previously worked as a multimedia sportswriter at the San Jose Mercury News.

INDIANAPOLIS – Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles said Tuesday he has “no master plan” to reveal at the NFL Combine about the team's quarterback decision, but understands the weight of uncertainty on Justin Fields and wants to ” act as quickly as possible.”

The Bears have the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second year in a row and will decide whether to keep Fields or select a quarterback in the draft. Poles didn't rule out trading the 24-year-old quarterback, a move he said could come before free agency begins next month.

“It just depends on what opportunities present themselves,” Poles said. “I'll say this: I think you know me well enough now. If we go down this path, I want to please Justin too. Nobody wants to live in gray, I know it's uncomfortable. I wouldn’t.” I want to be in that situation too. So we’re going to gather the information, we’re going to move as quickly as possible, we’re not going to be in a rush and we’re going to see what comes up and what’s best for the organization.”

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Poles insisted he wants to know soon what direction the Bears will go at quarterback.

“Tomorrow,” said the manager. And that wasn't an exaggeration.

“No, I would like to know as soon as possible,” Poles said. “I'd like to know, but I know that's not how the process works. Of course it would be good to have a free hand beforehand. Like I said, I'm also assuming that if we were to do something with Justin, I would want to do it right by him and I know since we live in that gray area, we would want to do something sooner rather than later. But just like I talk about contracts, it takes two teams to figure it out, but at the same time we're also trying to figure out the drafting process. There are a lot of different things with different schedules and that makes it a little difficult.”

Poland and the rest of the Bears' front office and coaching staff will meet with the draft's consensus top prospect, USC's Caleb Williams, and other quarterbacks this week in Indianapolis. The managing director emphasized that getting to know the personality and “wiring” of the applicants was one of the most important things he wanted to take away from the interview at the combine.

Asked about the notion that Williams or the quarterback's representatives don't want the Heisman Trophy winner to play in Chicago, Poles said he has “no concerns at all.”

“I would like to know why, if that were the case,” Poles said. “I think as a young quarterback, and I've dealt with this, infrastructure is important and I think we've made really good progress in terms of having a really good infrastructure for whoever comes in or Justin stays .” here also.”

Poles also discussed contract negotiations with second-team All-Pro cornerback Jaylon Johnson. The Poles made it clear in January that the team intends to make a deal with Johnson and hopes to avoid using the franchise tag and sign the 24-year-old cornerback to a long-term contract.

“The discussions are going well at the moment,” said Poles. “We feel like we've done a really good job of coming to the table strong and showing the respect that he deserves just in terms of his performance over the course of his career and really focusing on the turnovers , which he achieved last year. That is our expectation.” He will continue as he has been with the Bears.

“When I say it's going to be strong, that means the cash flows are strong, the guarantees are strong, the maturity for it is strong; “Given his age, there's a really good opportunity to get back into the market and continue to make money and play well,” and hopefully that stays with the Bears for a long time, so I'm excited about that. Like I've said about these deals – always – it takes two to tango, and you have to find a place where everyone feels comfortable, so I feel really good about this situation.”