The Bears finalized a deal to make Kansas City Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles their next general manager.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the news first Tuesday. The Bears made it official Tuesday night.
Poles, 36, has spent one season in his current role with the Chiefs. He oversees college scouting across the country and assists with pro scouting. He also prepares the team for free agency, the draft and oversees the team’s out-of-town area scouts.
He was a finalist for the New York Giants general manager position last week. New York elected to go with Bills assistant general manager Joe Schoen instead.
A video went viral Tuesday morning that appeared to show Bears chairman George McCaskey picking Poles up from the airport. The team had reportedly narrowed its list of candidates down to at least three for the open GM position. The other finalists included Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort and New England Patriots front office consultant Eliot Wolf.
“We are thrilled to be able to add someone of Ryan’s background and football expertise to our organization,” McCaskey said in a statement released by the team. “His accomplishments with the Chiefs speak for themselves and amplified the team’s standing as one of the premier franchises in professional sports. We are confident that under his leadership, we will reach our goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Chicago.”
The Bears have spent the past two weeks interviewing a dozen candidates for their general manager position. A five-person panel has conducted interviews for both general manager and head coach. The panel includes help from an outside advisor in Bill Polian, the former Colts general manager. Ultimately, the hiring decisions belong to McCaskey.
Poles apparently stood out after his initial interview on Friday, earning himself a second interview Tuesday. He began his front office career with the Chiefs in 2009 as the team’s player personnel assistant. He spent the following three years as a college scouting administrator before becoming the college scouting director in 2013. He ascended to director of college scouting in 2017, the same year the Chiefs drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and was promoted again to assistant director of player personnel in 2018. He held that role until he earned his current role in 2021.
“I am extremely grateful to George, the McCaskey family and the rest of the Bears organization for this opportunity,” Poles said in a statement. “The Chicago Bears are one of the flagship franchises in the National Football League and are recognized as one of the most prestigious clubs in all of sports. It’s an honor for me to join such a well-regarded organization. Together with my family, I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running to help get this organization, its fanbase and the city what they deserve: a winning team and a Super Bowl trophy.”
At age 36, Poles will become one of the youngest general managers in the NFL. Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry is 34 and was believed to be the youngest GM in league history when the Browns hired him at age 32. At the time, Berry was the only GM in his 30s. Poles’ predecessor in Chicago, Ryan Pace, was 37 when the Bears hired him in 2015.
Despite his age, he has 13 years of front office experience. He played college ball at Boston College prior to his NFL front office career. From 2004-07, he played on the offensive line protecting current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. The Bears briefly signed Poles as an undrafted free agent in 2008, but he never made the 53-man roster.
Things have come full circle for Poles and the Bears. He’ll now be the one making those roster decisions now.
Poles will be faced with possibly the most important decision of his tenure right off the bat: hiring a head coach. The Bears’ search panel has already interviewed a dozen candidates for head coach.
Former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus are reportedly among the finalists for the head coach position.
It’s unclear how much of that decision will fall to Poles, and how much he will be aided by the Bears’ search panel.