Expect Ryan Poles’ disinformation campaign to kick into high gear

Does Bears’ GM want to trade QB Justin Fields? Depends on whom you ask.

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Justin Fields

Bears quarterback Justin Fields takes the snap during the first quarter against the Washington Commanders at Soldier Field on Oct. 13, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

There’s a part of the job description of NFL general manager that doesn’t get talked about often — a dirty secret, like knowing how the sausage is made. When you hire a GM for your team, he has to be a great poker player. More bluntly, your GM has to be an excellent liar.

It doesn’t feel good hitching your wagon to the lying ability of Ryan Poles, but if you’re a Bears fan, that’s exactly what you should be rooting for this offseason. I’m sure Poles would bristle at the word “liar.” Anyone would. But we’ve entered the part of the year where it’s imperative that he and his staff disseminate false information all over the league.

That’s why you’re going to continue to see somewhat laughable stories about quarterback Justin Fields and how the Bears feel about him. Some of those stories are going to be planted by the Bears, attributed to “NFL sources,” which gives them plausible deniability.

I’ve been struggling with the idea of morality in spaces like this since I was covering the NFL every day. I’d have 20-minute conversations with agents, coaches or front-office people, mostly “on background,” that always left me more confused than when I picked up the phone. I’m no dummy, or overly self-important. I understand that for the most part, big-time news-breakers like Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport and the information apparatus that is ESPN’s talking head shows are what move the needle with NFL rumors. But I’d wonder what the benefit was in me knowing information, and what it would do to the marketplace if I just blindly reported things I was told.

From a journalistic standpoint, I fear we’ve stepped into a place where one-source reporting has become the norm and not the outlier. That’s a column for another day.

At one point last week, I looked up while doing my radio show to see that ESPN and ESPN2 were simultaneously airing debates about whether Fields should be traded — two completely different panels discussing the subject. It made me laugh.

So you know where I stand on the issue, I believe trading Fields would be a fool’s errand. Let me give you some reasons why:

1. In even allowing Fields’ name to surface, you’ve damaged your return.

2. While most analysts have been stuck on the idea that drafting another quarterback restarts the QB clock, the Bears realistically have Fields under contract control for at least the next three years. They can pick up his fifth-year option at the end of next season. If we throw in a franchise tag at the end of Year 5, that’s four years of control.

3. Trading Fields lessens the value of the Bears’ No. 1 draft pick — or at least has them playing roulette with trading down and getting the QB they want. Ideally, the haul of picks they would get in exchange for the No. 1 pick would be more valuable than the gap between Fields and whomever they have as the top QB on their draft board. They have holes everywhere. You need to maximize picks to fix that.

4. If Poles can’t envision the Bears being competitive by the 2024 season, then he probably wasn’t the right person to hire in the first place.

As Lemmy from Motörhead would say, “It’s time to play the game!” Bears fans should be rooting for Poles to be a dirty, rotten scoundrel until the draft. They should be hoping he has the teams looking to move up to No. 1 spinning around like tops.

There is a downside, though. Being shrewd will get you love if your plan succeeds. But if the Bears are actually thinking about trading Fields, I hope they’re ready for the backlash that will come with it. This fanbase just found something to believe in. A move like that would erode faith in the vision.

It’s the lying season. Justin, trust NOBODY.

You can hear Laurence Holmes talk Chicago sports Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 670 The Score with Dan Bernstein.

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