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Bears in 'enviable' position to add quality talent


With the No. 1 and No. 9 picks in the draft and ample salary cap space, the Bears are primed to strengthen their roster this offseason.

"It's a really good opportunity," general manager Ryan Poles told at the NFL Combine. "In this position, you try to find a word to put on it and it's 'flexibility.' That's a huge asset to have when you're building a football team."

“This is the first year where I feel like we’ve set the foundation, and we can build above ground and really put something together that can be special.” Bears GM Ryan Poles

After adding key pieces in the draft and free agency last offseason, the Bears improved from 3-14 in 2022 to 7-10. A year later, they'll look to acquire more talented young players with their slew of assets and take the next step as a team.

"This is the first year where I feel like we've set the foundation and we can build above ground and really put something together that can be special," Poles said. "I see it as a really good opportunity and, again, the flexibility piece allows you to do some really creative things to accelerate that whole process."

The last time an NFL team had the No. 1 pick in the draft and a second top 10 selection was in 2018. That's when the Browns chose quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 1 and cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4 with a pick that had been acquired a year earlier from the Texans when Houston traded up to select quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The Bears made a blockbuster trade of their own a year ago when they dealt the No. 1 pick in last year's draft to the Panthers in exchange for receiver DJ Moore and four draft picks, including one that ended up being this year's No. 1 selection.

"The trade turned out to be a home run," ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter told "Now it's a question of how you capitalize on that, and can you take advantage of that? Basically, it has been laid out for the Chicago Bears. It's all in front of them. That's why this becomes such a critical offseason. I think it's the Ryan Poles-Chicago Bears offseason because the Bears control the offseason.

"They are in an enviable position … You have everything you could want to build your franchise … This is a franchise that could be set for years to come."

There's literally nowhere that Poles can go in public without being asked about his plans for the draft, an issue that has both captivated and divided Bears fans.

"I went to the Blackhawks game on Sunday and went through the lobby there and it turned into this 100-person debate on what I should do," Poles said with a smile.

"But you can feel the passion from the fanbase, and I love that. I see it as a really fun opportunity. As a general manager, front office person, you dream of these situations."