GM Ryan Poles thinks Bears ‘can have something special’ with Justin Fields

Speaking under a palm tree Monday at the NFL’s annual meetings, Poles explained why he chose his own quarterback over drafting one.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs against the Lions.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs against the Lions.

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PHOENIX — Bears general manager Ryan Poles expected quarterback Justin Fields to be more excited. Or at least to respond.

Poles texted Fields this month upon deciding to trade the No. 1 overall pick to the Panthers for two first-round picks, two second-rounders and standout receiver DJ Moore. It was, Poles hopes, a franchise-changing haul and by far the best offer he got from four teams when he shopped the pick.

But when Poles texted Fields the news, Fields didn’t write back right away.

‘‘I said, ‘Are you sleeping?’ ’’ Poles said. ‘‘And then he actually was. He took a nap. He woke up, and he was pumped up. He got to connect with DJ, and he’s fired up.’’

So is Poles, who said in January he wouldn’t trade Fields unless he was ‘‘absolutely blown away’’ by a college quarterback. Speaking under a palm tree Monday at the NFL’s annual meetings, Poles explained why he chose his own quarterback over drafting one.

‘‘I really needed something to take me so far above Justin where we didn’t want to look behind the curtain and see how this was going to play out,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel really good about Justin; still do. I think these quarterback prospects are going to have good careers, too.’’

Keeping Fields was always the most likely outcome. But Poles said he owed it to the franchise to scout college quarterbacks — he couldn’t ‘‘completely shut the door’’ at the start of the process — before ruling out drafting one No. 1 overall. He communicated with Fields throughout the offseason about his plans, which is why he wound up texting him about Moore.

‘‘I think having [Fields] in the building and seeing the progress he made in this first year, getting familiar with our system, there’s special and athletic traits,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ve seen in college his ability to use his arm, too. I believe when all that comes together, we can have something special.’’

The Bears weren’t blown away by the quarterback crop. Poles said the NFL Scouting Combine was the ‘‘last step’’ that sealed his decision to trade the pick. Staff members had watched game film leading up to the combine that they didn’t think showed the quarterbacks measuring up to Fields.

‘‘It always starts with the tape,’’ Poles said.

Once Poles started shopping the No. 1 pick, he said four teams presented him with offers. Others clearly had done their homework, too.

‘‘Then there were a bunch where they were still thinking about it or still evaluating, and it was, ‘Not for us right now,’ ’’ he said. ‘‘But I could tell they had done enough work where they were comfortable sitting it out for what we were asking.’’

Poles was enticed to make the trade before the start of free agency if it meant landing a veteran receiver. Moore was much better than what Poles could have acquired on the free-agent market, even with the most salary-cap space in the league. Perhaps no free-agent position group was worse this offseason.

Poles played teams against each other, but not overtly. He didn’t return to each team and dare them to beat someone else’s price.

‘‘I’ve had that happen to me in negotiating settings with agents, so I really don’t do that — specifically shop deals around,’’ he said. ‘‘I just don’t like that. But if I have something better, I have something better. And we can keep talking.’’

The Panthers were ‘‘motivated — highly motivated,’’ Poles said. They had a deal.

‘‘The fact that there was a young receiver who had consistent production — who had been healthy and was a great person, as well — to add into the mix really kind of took it over the top for me,’’ Poles said. ‘‘Where we can improve the roster now, improve our quarterback, but also set us up for the future. Right now, we don’t talk about it that much. But I guarantee at this point next year, having those two [first-round picks], we’re going to be excited about it.’’

Between now and then, he said he’s excited about the weapons he has given Fields at receiver: Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool.

‘‘It’s just another playmaker on the field,’’ Poles said. ‘‘The one thing I really like is, we have three different types of receivers. We’ve got a guy [in Claypool] who’s a big-body guy that can play inside/outside. We have Mooney, who can separate and run vertically and make plays. Then DJ is just a strong, physical guy who can separate and make plays after the catch, too. I like how everything’s set up. And then, you throw [tight end] Cole [Kmet] in the mix, too.

‘‘He has weapons.’’

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