As general manager Ryan Poles sized up the work it would take to build the Bears into a winner, he clearly saw quarterback Justin Fields was the centerpiece of their future.
And to build around him, he had to leave outside linebacker Khalil Mack in the past.
It was a bold move for Poles to undo the Bears’ biggest trade of the last decade in his first six weeks on the job and, in doing so, to take a sledgehammer to a pass rush that was arguably the strongest part of the roster. But he thought it was necessary.
Mack is still in his prime, but the Bears went 6-11 last season and need widespread renovation. Getting a second-round pick and clearing a massive salary-cap hit off the books eventually will help set up the infrastructure Fields needs.
‘‘It was looking at where we needed to go,’’ Poles said. ‘‘It just seemed like the right time to do it in terms of value where we can help this team out now and in the future.
‘‘I would understand why some people would be upset. It’s not easy for us to do, either, but . . . my job [is] to do what I think is best for the organization for now and the future.’’