Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Alyssa Barbieri and Brendan Sugrue

15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022: No. 5 Ryan Poles

The Chicago Bears wrapped their 2022 season, where they finished 3-14 and lost their final 10 games of the year. But the future is bright heading into this 2023 offseason, as GM Ryan Poles has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, a boatload of salary cap space ($118 million) and a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2022 season and look ahead to how they factor into 2023.

Buy Bears Tickets

Kicking off the top five is none other than Poles himself, who tore the whole roster down and set Chicago up for success looking ahead to 2023.


AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Position: General manager

Age: 37

Experience: 1st year

2022 cap hit: N/A

2022 notable additions

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
  • Key free agent additions: DT Justin Jones, LB Nicholas Morrow, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, OL Lucas Patrick
  • Key rookie additions: S Jaquan Brisker, LB Jack Sanborn, LT Braxton Jones, CB Kyler Gordon

2022 recap

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Poles came to Chicago with his vision for how he wants to build this team. And that started with him tearing the foundation down and starting anew. He did that by trading away players that didn’t factor into the future (Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn) in return for draft capital, as well as releasing expensive, aging veterans and. While the Bears accrued $84.9 million in dead cap, it was always about building for 2023.

When Poles joined the Bears, he stressed the importance of building through the draft. He turned five picks into 11, which included some significant contributors in safety Jaquan Brisker, cornerback Kyler Gordon, left tackle Braxton Jones and punter Trenton Gill. Not to mention, he found a stud in undrafted free agency with linebacker Jack Sanborn.

But Poles wasn’t without his questionable moves, which included trading what’s now the 32nd pick in the draft for wide receiver Chase Claypool. While Claypool didn’t work out in 2022, the move could wind up a solid one if he becomes a significant contributor in 2023. There’s been plenty of criticism for how Poles failed to surround Fields with a competent supporting cast, including underwhelming receivers and an offensive line that struggled mightily keeping him upright.

2023 outlook

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Everything that Poles did in 2022 has led to what’s shaping up to be a potentially franchise-altering 2023 offseason. The Bears control free agency and the NFL draft. Chicago is slated to have more than $110 million in salary cap space (nearly double the next team) and own the first overall pick in the draft, which gives Poles plenty of leverage. Now, it’s up to Poles to make the moves necessary to put the Bears in a position to contend for the postseason in 2023.

Chicago has a number of deficiencies to address on the roster, starting in the trenches with the offensive and defensive lines. He also needs to work on giving his quarterback Justin Fields a better supporting cast. Poles has said he wants to build through the draft, and he’ll have the chance to do that at No. 1. The expectation is Poles will look to trade back from the top spot and acquire additional draft capital — while landing a a top prospect, perhaps Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. Poles might’ve torn it all down in 2022, but now he’s responsible for building the new foundation.

15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022

We’re counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022. Check back every day.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.