Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles shares intimate details of Justin Fields trade at NFL owners meetings

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles faced the biggest decision of his career, and arguably the biggest decision of the entire 2024 NFL offseason, when he was forced to choose between Justin Fields and, presumably, Caleb Williams to be the Bears’ quarterback for the foreseeable future.

While most of the media and fanbase assumed Poles would side with Williams, the delay in trading Fields sparked speculation, false reporting, and an overall sense of frustration in Chicago.

It wasn’t an easy decision for Poles, as he explained at the 2024 NFL owners meetings.

“I think what was important for Flus and I is really to express to (Fields) this is really a tough decision,” Poles said. “How much he means to the city of Chicago, our fan base and us.”

Poles noted that Justin Fields was positive and “his tone was good.” 

MORE: Ryan Poles speaks glowingly about Caleb Williams

Indeed, deciding to walk away from Fields only three years into his career couldn’t have been easy. But it was the logical decision, especially given how great a talent Caleb Williams is and how much sense a rookie quarterback contract makes for a team still in the early stages of what was a massive rebuild.

“I think the biggest thing is the timeline and the runway with a rookie contract,” Poles told the Chicago Sun-Times. “To be able to continue to build a team in a way that you have enough resources to get it where you need to get it to. We were getting to the end of that runway with Justin.

“Then, in terms of the game, I feel like he was making strides and improving. … [But] it’s really the timeline and how much runway you have. Because to get a guy up off the ground, you need to support him with as much talent as possible.”

One of the bigger concerns in the Fields vs. Williams debate has been how a player like Caleb Williams could join a Bears locker room that’s been so outspoken in favor of Fields, especially if Chicago decided to keep both quarterbacks. Poles said he and his staff determined it was best to let a rookie work into that role this year.

Williams should have little trouble earning the respect of Chicago Bears veterans. He already had one of them — Keenan Allen — attend his pro day, and the tone is slowly beginning to shift in his favor on social media from Bears players who are active on X (formerly Twitter).

As for the Justin Fields trade market, one that resulted in the Bears getting a sixth-round pick in 2025 from the Pittsburgh Steelers (that could turn into a fourth-rounder if Fields plays 51% of the Steelers’ offensive plays)? Poles confirmed it was a small pool of teams who were interested; the market determined Fields’ trade value.

It feels like the book on Justin Fields is officially closed, and the Caleb Williams story is free to begin now that Ryan Poles has addressed everything. 

The Chicago Bears’ 2024 NFL Draft season starts… now. 

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