Stone Cold Ryan Poles is the name that took the Chicago Bears from a middling team with no offensive or defensive identity to a team that feels like it has a lot to play for. In a blockbuster move, the Bears were able to acquire two first round picks, two second round picks, and a gem of a wide receiver in D.J. Moore, all for the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Poles didn’t stop there and kept steamrolling forward, grabbing key free agents left and right, leading to an overall upgrade in every aspect of the team. TWSN’s Elie Gaffen and Nader Assaf grade the Bears’ early offseason acquisitions in a turning point for the culture of the team.
T.J. Edwards, Linebacker: Three-year deal for $19.5 million
Talk about a steal to set the tone for the rest of the Bears’ free agent signings. T.J. Edwards was one of the best players on a premier Philadelphia Eagles defense that helped carry the team to a Super Bowl. He was the fourth-highest rated linebacker in the NFL last year according to PFF, being one of the most attractive free agents in this 2023 class. Everyone knows the Bears needed help on the defensive side of the ball, and they managed to get that help in an extraordinary manner on a team-friendly deal. Right now, this is looking like an A+ deal. Let’s see what Edwards can do.
P.J. Walker, Quarterback: Two-year deal for $5 million
While this may not be a deal that’ll greatly impact the franchise, it’s a very underrated signing that can help the Bears in the long run. They’re building the offense around a mobile quarterback who’s athletic and has the ability to play outside the pocket, and the backup now fits the same description. Not to mention, P.J. Walker was also teammates with new Bears WR1 D.J. Moore and running D’Onta Foreman in Carolina, meaning he’ll know how to use his weapons if the time comes. Last year, the backup to Fields was Trevor Siemian, and to say the least, he was not the right fit for Chicago, seemingly at all. Walker is a good guy to have in the locker room and on the field as a backup. I really like this deal, and the only thing that’s keeping it from being an A is the fact it’s still a QB2 deal.
D.J. Moore, Wide Receiver: Via Trade from the Carolina Panthers
D.J. Moore is a Bear, and I still can’t believe it. The deal sending the Bears Moore alongside draft compensation for the first overall pick as a whole was a fantastic move for Chicago, but the acquisition of the wide receiver alone was what Justin Fields needed. Moore is an established star in this league who has shown that he can produce regardless of who is under center. Now that he has a talented, young quarterback throwing to him, with other great receivers ready to take some pressure off, the sky’s the limit. Fans are ecstatic, and for good reason. D.J. Moore is going to make a difference in Chi Town.
Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker: Four-year deal for $72 Million
This was another huge signing the Bears spent a lot of money on, and it came as another linebacker for the defense. Edmunds was one of the highest graded linebackers this past season, and he’ll look to continue that in his new home. He is fantastic in coverage and can be a game-changing playmaker for them. Signing T.J. Edwards on a pretty cheap contract gave Poles the luxury to spend more in other areas. Deciding to double-dip on linebackers can prove to be a great move, especially adding a guy like Edmunds. I love the player, but I’m not crazy about the contract, as it would require Edmunds to keep up his play from last year and continue to lift up his ceiling. It is definitely attainable, and I’ll probably end up giving him a better grade after the season ends.
D’Onta Foreman, Running Back: One-year deal for $3 Million
After deciding not to bring running back David Montgomery back, the Bears were left with a lot of question marks at the position. Instead, they decided to add on two depth pieces in D’Onta Foreman and Travis Homer. Foreman was the most prominent of these additions, as he played well in a starting role for the Carolina Panthers. Adding him makes me think the Bears are going to take a back seat at the running back position and ride with a committee approach, which I don’t think is a bad thing. Foreman can complement Khalil Herbert very well as a 1A and 1B approach to the backfield, but I was expecting a bit more out of this position for the Bears. My hope was: They would take a shot on a middle round running back to work on, but with these recent additions, it doesn’t seem likely. Either way, Foreman can be an efficient runner to use and with Justin Fields at quarterback and the investment of pass catchers, there isn’t much of a need for a huge investment at running back.
Nate Davis, Guard: Three-year deal for $30 Million
Davis was one of my favorite signings the Bears made, as they were able to beef up their offensive line a bit more. Even though a right guard isn’t exactly what the team needed, it does provide some room to move some guys around and ultimately have a better offensive line than they had last year. It does come with some question marks though, as Teven Jenkins will most likely not be moving from right guard. This means that Nate Davis will have to play on the left side and have the burden of the responsibility for the first time in his career. I don’t think he’d have a problem with that, but it also gives the Bears more stability and versatility on their offensive line, which can only mean good things as we move closer to the draft.
Robert Tonyan, Tight End: One-year deal for $2.65 Million
Poaching players from the Green Bay Packers is what I like to see, and they made a splash with Robert Tonyan. The offensive weapons for Fields are absolutely loaded, and the Tonyan signing adds a bit more to that as well. Cole Kmet had a solid season, but there is more room for improvement. Tonyan can complement Kmet well, giving depth to the tight end position, as there was no one reliable past Kmet. I wonder who gets the nod for the starting position as Bears offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy, has worked with Tonyan in Green Bay. Tonyan’s abilities bring another player with good hands to Fields’ arsenal. The Bears didn’t use two tight end sets often last year because of the lack of depth at the position. I think seeing Kmet and Tonyan on the field together will end up being extremely interesting to watch.