One day after the Bears signed Cole Kmet to a lucrative contract extension, one of the tight end's teammates delivered a special message to general manager Ryan Poles.
"I had a player come up to me after practice today and said, 'Hey, you sent a ton of energy through the locker room because you guys are taking care of the guys in there,'" Poles told reporters Thursday at Halas Hall.
Kmet, who was entering the final season of his rookie deal, inked a four-year extension through 2027. Last season the 24-year-old led the Bears in all receiving categories with 50 receptions, 544 yards and seven touchdowns while playing in all 17 games.
"It's good to get an extension done when you have a good player like Cole," Poles said. "I do think it energizes the locker room. Especially this being my first extension, it sends a good message. I think everyone knows me, what I stand for, what I believe in in terms of taking care of your players. But there is always action that needs to come behind words. So I do think it helps the locker room see that 'all right, if I continue to do what I'm doing, there's a chance I can be in that mix.' I think that's always positive."
Kmet first landed on Poles' radar when the 6-6, 260-pounder was playing at Notre Dame and the Bears general manager was working in the Chiefs' personnel department.
"I remember watching him in college when I was in Kansas City and obviously the size is what stands out first and foremost," Poles said. "Then you see the athlete; the combination of the size and the athletic ability and then the toughness. I still remember there was a play on the sideline against Georgia … he just throws the dude on the ground as he's churning to get extra yards. You see just how he was wired and how he played the game.
"Then when we get here [last year], [and he's] the same guy and he continues just to get better and better with the way he approaches practice. Then we saw the production in his season. I felt like he was growing, especially in the red zone, scoring touchdowns. All of that has come together and he is heading in the right direction."
The contract extension was both a reward for what Kmet has accomplished in his first three seasons with the Bears as well as an investment in the future.
"Any time you give an extension, your expectation is obviously that you're rewarding what he's done but where he's going as well," Poles said. "We think he's on the right track to continue to grow and become a good player."
Kmet was an ideal candidate for an extension given his production as well as his intangibles. In addition, he was an avid Bears fan while growing up in Lake Barrington, and his father, Frank, was a lineman on the Bears practice squad in 1993.
"We've seen Cole get better and better ever since we've been here, which was really cool," Poles said. "We're excited for him. He embodies everything we look for in a Bear: hard work, dedication, how he handles himself in the locker room. He's a true professional. Obviously comes from a family of professionals and you can see that in the way he approaches work. We're all excited about that."