Last week, new Bears general manager Ryan Poles bemoaned the lack of draft picks left him by predecessor Ryan Pace.
“That’s just the hand we were dealt,” he said. “And we’ll be open-minded on how we can create more picks.”
Thursday, he certainly was open-minded, agreeing to trade Khalil Mack to the Chargers for a second-round draft pick next month and a sixth-round pick next year.
Poles trading a sure-fire Pro Football Hall of Famer in his first major Bears transaction is a bold, refreshingly cold-hearted move, considering the Bears made Mack the richest defensive player in history when they traded for him four years ago.
It’s also a smart way for the 36-year-old Poles to begin reshaping his team. There will be more trades, too. The Bears are eyeing 2023 or later — and not 2022 — to begin competing at the highest level.
The Bears figure to look for free agents next week that will allow quarterback Justin Fields to operate within a functional offense. Otherwise, improving the team’s long-term roster outlook will be prioritized over bettering last season’s 6-11 record. The Bears have their first-round pick next year — unlike this season, they will be able to reap the draft rewards of a bad season.
The Bears’ roster, as it stands now, is devoid of elite players. Poles knows that.