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Bears still in information-gathering mode at Combine


INDIANAPOLIS – Bears general manager Ryan Poles told reporters Tuesday at the NFL Combine that he has not yet made a decision about the team's quarterback position.

The issue involves whether to retain incumbent Justin Fields or select a quarterback high in the draft, possibly with the No. 1 overall pick the Bears obtained a year ago from the Panthers. It's a topic that has captivated the team's fanbase and created a huge buzz in NFL circles.

"Contrary to reports out there, I have no master plan to present to everyone today," Poles said. "[The Combine] is an opportunity for us to continue to gather information, learn about the different players in the draft, listen to what opportunities could come up, and then at the end of the day, we're going to make the best decision that we can for the Chicago Bears.

"It will not be based on fear of what could happen with this and what could happen with that. We're going to put our information together and make the best decision because, at the end of the day, we'll always throw our decision-making against our core deal, which is win championships and sustain success for a long period of time. There's a lot that goes into that, but we're excited to gather the information and create clarity as we go along."

If the decision is made to trade Fields, Poles would want to complete a deal as soon as possible to provide clarity for the former Ohio State star.

"If we go down that road, I want to do right by Justin as well," Poles said. "No one wants to live in gray. I know that's uncomfortable. I wouldn't want to be in that situation either. So, we will gather the information, we will move as quickly as possible; we are not going to be in a rush and see what presents itself and what's best for the organization."

NFL trades can be discussed and agreed to but do not become official until the start of the new league year March 13. That's also when free agency begins.

Poles has communicated with Fields since the end of the season and will continue to do so.

"I told him this after the season when we had our exit meetings that transparency and communication is key in these moments," Poles said. "I told them that we will do that. I've been in contact with his team and kind of let them know what we are looking at, how things might play out and that we'll continue to communicate as we move forward.

"Again, I understand how uncomfortable that is for him, but again, like I told him, and he understands, I think he said it the other day, too, it's part of this business. It is a unique situation. But I'll continue that communication with them."

The Bears are in position to take advantage of a top-heavy draft at quarterback. Most NFL analysts expect USC's Caleb Williams to be selected with the No. 1 pick and also believe that North Carolina's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels will be top-10 choices.

While Poles has watched a ton of tape on the quarterbacks in the draft, he intends to get to know them better as people during Combine interviews and top 30 visits to Halas Hall.

"The person is a huge part of it," Poles said, reiterating comments he made in his end-of-season press conference. "I've talked about that a lot. What's the makeup? The leadership? How do they handle pressure? How do they handle pressure in a big city like ours. A lot of those factors go in.

"It's time on task and just kind of getting to know the personality. There's been a ton of information gathering from my team just in terms of teammates, coaches, things like that, but you've got to spend time with another person to understand their wiring."

One topic Poles no doubt will broach with Williams is rumors that the USC standout may not want to play for the Bears. Poles told reporters he has "no concerns about that at all," adding: "I would love to know why, if that was the case. As a young quarterback, the infrastructure is important, and I think we've made really good progress in terms of having really good infrastructure for whoever were to come in or if Justin were to stay here as well."