Bears’ front-office brass came from Super Bowl teams

Say this for the Bears: when they revamped their front office a year ago, they took from the best.

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Bears general manager Ryan Poles

Bears general manager Ryan Poles came from the Chiefs.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

PHOENIX — Say this for the Bears: When they revamped their front office a year ago, they took from the best.

Ryan Poles had been employed by the Chiefs for 12 years, starting as a scouting assistant and working his way up, when the Bears named him their general manager last January. He quickly made his first hire: Ian Cunningham, who had spent the previous five years with the Eagles. Poles even created a new title to help lure Cunningham away: assistant general manager.

Poles had been to two Super Bowls with the Chiefs and Cunning-ham one with the Eagles. Each had contributed to solving the most pressing conundrum in the NFL — drafting a star quarterback. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes is now the best passer in the NFL, while the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts reached the Pro Bowl in only his second full season as a starter.

Poles and Cunningham each had a hand in assembling a roster that was among the most complete in the NFL this season. No team gained more yards than the Chiefs or allowed fewer than the Eagles. Both teams parlayed a No. 1 seed into a Super Bowl berth.

Now, the question becomes: Can Poles and Cunningham work the same magic for the Bears?

Coming off the worst record in the NFL, the Bears might be the furthest from the Super Bowl of any team. They have the No. 1 overall draft pick and the most salary-cap space available, and the real work is just beginning.

“[Poles] is going to do a great job,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said this week. “I think he had a lot of young guys that stepped up and played well this year.”

Veach texted often this past season with Poles, with whom he first worked in 2013.

“He’s a smart guy and has a really good staff around him,” Veach said. “He has a lot of picks and a lot of money and a chance to do great things.”

Cunningham has been the most important member of that staff.

“I miss that guy tremendously,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “That guy’s a star. He’s a star evaluator. He has a great sense of how to build a team.”

Even without making a move, Cunningham still was one of the standouts in this year’s hiring cycle. In the last month, he was a finalist for GM openings with the Cardinals and the Titans and could have had the Cardinals job if he wanted it, a source said.

“In my humble opinion, the Bears are renting him because he’s got a tremendous future,” Roseman said. “He’s inquisitive. He wants to know about everything, every part of it. He’s going to make a great GM.”

What the Bears do next will be an important line on his résumé. If they make progress, he only will become that much more attractive to suitors. After all, helping to build a consistent winner was part of what attracted the Bears to Poles. He worked in the front office when the Chiefs drafted Mahomes, all-world tight end Travis Kelce and defensive lineman Chris Jones. From Poles’ arrival in 2009 through this season, the Chiefs have had 31 players named to the Pro Bowl a combined 76 times. The Bears, by contrast, had 27 players combine for 45 Pro Bowl appearances during the same timeframe.

Former Bears head coach Matt Nagy, now the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach, first met Poles in 2013. Although he was happy to see Poles get a chance to run a front office, Nagy said it has been hard to watch him tear up the Bears’ roster and not take it personally.

“Obviously, it’s a little different because of the situation,” Nagy said. “[Former GM] Ryan Pace and myself poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that situation.”

Nagy gets it. But that doesn’t make it any less painful.

“You see guys getting traded or released,” he said. “You understand a lot of times when a new head coach and general manager come in, a lot of times that’s what happened. It’s not unexpected. But there’s still that process of knowing that. . . . It’s tough.

“You care for the person. Roquan Smith gets traded. That was my very first draft pick. I love Roquan like a son. It’s a part of the process.”

Now comes the hard part for Poles and Cunningham. The Chiefs and Eagles are in the Super Bowl in part because of their contributions. To get the Bears there, they’ll have to do a lot more.

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