Chicago Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham nearly lands Titans’ GM job

Chicago Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham

LAKE FOREST – The hope was that Ian Cunningham might be an NFL general manager someday. Bears general manager Ryan Poles just wasn’t quite expecting it to happen for his top assistant after only 12 months on the job.

Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham nearly landed the Tennessee Titans’ vacant general manager job this week. It appears, though, that Cunningham will remain with the Bears for another season.

The Titans hired 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon on Tuesday, but Cunningham was reportedly one of three finalists with Carthon and Titans interim GM Ryan Cowden, according to the NFL Network.

Cunningham was Poles’ first front office hire as GM. He became the assistant general manager last year after spending the previous five seasons in the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office, and several years with the Baltimore Ravens before that.

Like Poles, Cunningham is a former college football offensive lineman. Poles and Cunningham have worked closely since they were hired a year ago. When they first started on the job last year, before either of them bought houses in the Chicago area for their families, they were rooming together.

They had never worked together prior to joining the Bears, but they became friends on the scouting trail and at events like the NFL Combine.

“It’d be a big loss, but at the same time, I was prepared for this,” Poles said of Cunningham potentially leaving one day. “Did I think it was going to be less than 12 months? No. But I’m not shocked at all. It’s not going to be long. If it’s this year, next year, I have a plan for it and I feel good about it. I didn’t expect he would be here long.”

Poles spoke briefly Tuesday after the Bears introduced new team president and CEO Kevin Warren. Poles would probably love to see his buddy continue advancing his career, even if it would be a loss for the Bears.

Cunningham also interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals, who hired Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort as their GM on Tuesday.

Even though Cunningham seems like he will remain with the Bears this year, his name will likely continue to come up when GM positions open up in the future.

“Consistency, detail, super disciplined,” Poles said of Cunningham. “Communication skills are outstanding. And then his ability to evaluate talent. And then I think the key thing in this position is just listening. A lot of times you get in that seat and you want to start barking orders and making decisions, but how can you receive all the information and send that through your own process and then move forward in a way that everyone feels involved? He’s special in that part.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.