During the bye week, we reviewed the first real free agent class by Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles. Poles was the GM last year but spent most of the season cleaning up the cap from the previous General Manager. This year, he got to spend.
Ryan Poles had a couple of good hits but a couple of misses as well. What were the best and worst from his free agent class, and how can that change over the final five games?
2. The Chicago Bears already extended Andrew Billings
The Chicago Bears clearly like what they saw from Andrew Billings. The team extended him right in the middle of the season, showing how much they thought he was making a direct impact. It is pretty obvious to see on tape, especially in the first four games when there were pieces shuffling and the team was getting blown out of games.
You saw that Billings was still fighting on his snaps and setting a tone. He had a huge tackle for loss to start the team's first win against the Washington Commanders. Beyond that, the Bears’ defense is trending to be a top-ten run defense after being quite easily the worst run defense last year. It was not just Billings; he was brought in to defend the run, and he has done just that, leading this turnaround.
Billings was brought in an affordable deal, but it was only one year. Now, he is extended through the next two seasons. While making roughly $4M per year and not being tied to him long-term if things change, this is a solid deal for both sides. For Ryan Poles and the Bears, they get Billings as a culture setter, as well as a run defender.
It is good to know that Ryan Poles can mine some value in the middle-tier of free agency, especially as we get into some of his misses.