INDIANAPOLIS -- Bears general manager Ryan Poles has the world in the palm of his hand as the NFL offseason kicks into high gear.
The Bears have around $100 million to spend in free agency and own the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Poles will use this week at the NFL Scouting Combine to gather information about draft prospects and potentially lay the groundwork for a franchise-altering trade involving the No. 1 pick.
Most high-profile NFL draft trades occur after free agency ends. However, Poles can see a scenario where it behooves the Bears to deal the pick before the opening bell of free agency.
"There are some scenarios that might benefit us to move before free agency opens, potentially, but again when we get back with all the information that we’ve gathered from here I think we’ll have a better direction," Poles told reporters Tuesday at the combine. "A clearer view of what we need and there’s scenarios where you could add players as well, potentially, which again, gives you some clarity on what you want to do in the draft and free agency."
Poles said he has had "starter conversations" with other teams, but nothing has gone far enough to involve specific players or picks.
When deciding what deal is best for the Bears, Poles must weigh several factors. That starts with how the Bears view the draft class, especially its top-end talent.
"It just depends how far back," Poles said when asked if trading the No. 1 pick was the ideal outcome. "But yeah, we need a lot, and that gives us more opportunity to bring in more players. It’s a good situation to be in for where our club is. But at the same time, when I talk about where guys are on the draft chart, if we have someone that is so high and in a special category that says, you know what, this guy is going to affect our team both from a culture standpoint and also from a gameday standpoint, then that might be the best thing to do as well. But in a vacuum, yeah, moving back gives you more opportunities to hit more players and continue to add to the core of this team."
Poles' ultimate dance will be balancing the value of adding more picks to his draft arsenal versus missing out on a potential franchise-changing prospect.
"That’s the numbers game I talk about," Poles said. "Really, getting our draft board set up, see where if we move to this spot, who’s available? I always talk about value so there’s going to be certain players that are going to be in the value bucket - how many are there? – which is going to dictate how far we can move back."
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Conversations about the No. 1 pick will heat up this week in Indianapolis, with a deal potentially getting done in the coming weeks.
But after a 3-14 season following a complete roster teardown, Poles and the Bears find themselves armed with the necessary assets to rise.
"I think, just my personality, I kind of stay level through it, whether it’s 32nd or the first pick," Poles said. "Really, just think of ways that we can improve our team. I try not to get too high or too low and try to stay on our toes because, like I said, I’ve been in this league long enough that some curve ball’s going to pop up, and we’re going to have to adapt and adjust to it.
"But if anything the feeling is of excitement because as a front office person this is a bit of a dream in terms of the flexibility and options that you have to improve the football team.”