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Ryan Poles Calls Deal Too Good to Pass Up

Bears will move on with young pass rushers on the outside now after losing veteran team record holder.

Bears GM Ryan Poles didn't need to see the press conference when linebacker Roquan Smith broke down in tears to realize the impact on the Bears locker room after trading pass rusher Robert Quinn.

He said he already felt that way about Quinn himself, but Poles made the trade for a fourth-round pick anyway and the Bears will now reach down deeper into their youth corps for an extra pass rusher.

"Obviously, part of the tough thing with this job and the position are the tough decisions you have to make," Poles said. "I almost feel like there's the emotional side, the human part of it that you know you're affecting not only a man but his family. You're kind of shaking that all up and I don't take that lightly at all and I'm sensitive to that.

"You also know that you're tweaking the fibers of your locker room, and that's a big deal too. He meant a lot to that locker room, but I'm fully confident that the guys, especially on the defensive side—the Jaylon Johnsons, the Eddie Jacksons, the Roquan Smiths, Justin Jones—those guys are going to continue to hold it down and be leaders on that defense and help us continue to perform."

It will all make for an interesting homecoming Dec. 18 when Quinn and his new team come to Chicago to play the Bears.

Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningam came from the Eagles and has a long-lasting relationship with Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman, and it helped swing a deal with compensation Poles felt was too good to ignore.

"And just to kind of finish everything up, I also want to give Ian Cunningham a lot of credit," Poles said. "He put a lot of work into this. Obviously his relationship with Howie went a long way. There's a lot of trust there. I also want to thank Howie for his part as well."

The fourth-round pick can't hurt a team trying to make up for years of the Ryan Pace regime trading away draft picks.

"It was just more of the draft compensation was the main focal point," Poles said.

The Bears lost their sack leader from last year, when he made 18 1/2 for a team record. In 2020 after signing for $70 million and five years, Quinn had two sacks. This year he had one.

The hole in the defensive line doesn't seem as deep as the one left in the locker room. Poles was told how Smith had cried Wednesday at a press conference.

"You know how much Robert means to his teammates and that's why these decisions, they're really, really tough because it's not a transaction, it's deeper than that," Poles said.

This will open the way for more playing time by rookie Dominque Robinson and possibly more for Kingsley Jonathan, who was acquired just before the season.

"And on the business side, it just made too much sense for what we're trying to do," Poles said. "It's going to allow us to continue to build a highly competitive roster. I think the other thing too on the business side and really the football side is I just really trust Gipson, Muhammad, Dom Robinson, Kingsley Jonathan. Those guys are going to continue to do a good job."

Poles said it was the improvement in those players that cause him to go back on his statement from before the season that he wasn't interested in trading Quinn.

"I really do trust in Gipson," Poles said. "He's had a good start to the season; Muhammad, he's brought intensity and toughness to that group; and even young Dom Robinson has flashed, he tipped that ball that Roquan got the other day and has a promising future and I think he’s going to continue to trend upwards."

As for Quinn himself, he had said he wanted to stay in Chicago but how broken up could he be going to a team currently with the best record in the NFL? After all, he did stay away from tall the OTAs and even mandatory and voluntary minicamp in the offseason.

"Listen, he's a pro," Quinn said. "We had our conversation face to face just to let him know the scenario and what was going down. He was professional about it, understood. I'm sure it wasn't easy to have everything shaken up at this point of the season. He took it like a pro and understands the business."

Coach Matt Eberflus addressed the players about the trade on Wednesday.

"I know Matt has talked to the guys about that, again, just to make sure that everyone's doing all right," Poles said. "We understand the magnitude of a little bit of a shakeup like that."

The deal was made with the Bears eating the bulk of Quinn's salary for this year, about $12.7 million, according to a report from NBC Sports. But it allows the Bears to have over $18 million more under the cap next year.

The obvious question for Poles was whether Quinn's value would have been greater in the offseason before he had a one-sack start, but he wasn't revealing anything about potential past offers.

"I'm not sure," he said. "I know I wanted Robert on this team in the beginning. There weren't many conversations at all. I was transparent with themーhim and his crewーabout that.

"I knew the way he played this game, the motor and all that. We needed that to kickstart how coachー Alan Williams and Flus wanted to play defense."

After all of that, is it possible there are more trades ahead before the deadline?

"It's hard to tell," Poles said. "I know we've got a few more days left. There's not a ton going on right now. So I feel good about where we're at."


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