Second-year GM Ryan Poles has been a busy man since the 2023 season officially opened for business. Poles entered free agency with more available cap room than any other team, and he’s armed with a plethora of draft picks.
The executive started the offseason with a bang. Poles traded the No. 1 pick to the Panthers on March 10. Carolina sent WR D.J. Moore to the Bears as part of a package that included the Nos. 9 and 61 picks this year, a first-round pick in 2024, and a second-round selection in ’25. The acquisition of Moore changes the dynamics of Chicago’s receiving corps. Darnell Mooney immediately slides to the No. 2 position. Chase Claypool will play out of the slot, and Equanimeous St. Brown will work in three-wideout formations. Velus Jones will continue to work as a specialty receiver and punt/kick returner.
The extra draft picks will help improve the team and give Poles options to trade up or down this year and next. The addition of Moore is significant because there were few options in free agency. The draft doesn’t feature any true blue-chip receivers, either. The Bears were 3-14 last year but had one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses. Chicago was within one score of winning or tying seven games, but that was on the defense. Rookies Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, and Jack Sanborn were standout performers. That said, the defense struggled after Poles traded Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith.
Naturally, Poles started filling his defensive holes immediately. He kicked off free agency by signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards. Edmunds was the top available linebacker, and Edwards was right behind. The two will get the bulk of defensive snaps playing alongside Sanborn. Chicago also now has one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL. Additionally, Dylan Cole was signed as a backup. Poles still needs to add depth to the position, particularly at middle linebacker.
The second-year GM also addressed the defensive line in free agency. Poles signed defensive end DeMarcus Walker and defensive tackle Andrew Billings. The Bears still need a dominant three-technique and will probably fill that position in the draft. Chicago also lacks depth on the front four. Justin Jones, Trevis Gipson, and Dominique Robinson are returning starters.
The offense got a much-needed lineman in guard Nate Davis, who comes over from the Titans on a three-year, $30 million deal. The Bears also signed running backs D’Onta Foreman and Travis Homer to fill the void left by David Montgomery, who signed with the Lions.
Here is the timeline for all of Chicago’s significant moves so far.
- February 21: The Bears cut DT Al-Quadin Muhammad.
- March 14: Signed fullback Khari Blasingame to a two-year extension. Poles also gave one-year extensions to long-snapper Patrick Scales and guard Dieter Eislen.
- March 15: Starting linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Joe Thomas were declared free agents. Running backs Montgomery and Darrynton Evans were also granted free agency. Likewise, offensive linemen Sam Mustipher, Michael Schofield, Dakota Dozier, and Riley Reiff were allowed to hit the open market. Chicago also let wide receivers Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle, and N’Keal Harry leave. Backups Matthew Adams, Nathan Peterman, Tim Boyle, Armon Watts, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Dane Cruikshank, Javin White, Angelo Blackson, and Elijah lee were declared free agents.
- March 15: Chicago announced the signings of Edmunds, Edwards, Homer, and DeMarcus and P.J. Walker. The Moore trade was made official on the 15th, too.
- March 16: The Bears cut backup QB Trevor Siemian. They then announced the signings of Billings, Forman, and tight end Robert Tonyan.
- March 23: Chicago announced the signing of Cole.