Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles' first two moves ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline marked the end of his roster teardown. Out went two veteran defenders who did not fit into the Bears' long-term plans -- defensive end Robert Quinn and linebacker Roquan Smith -- in came draft capital to help Chicago build around quarterback Justin Fields.
The Bears gave themselves a head start Tuesday when they acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick. The steep price of sending their own second-round pick, which could be a top-40 selection, versus the second-rounder they received from Baltimore in the Smith trade -- potentially top 60 -- reflected Poles' urgency in getting Fields a receiver.
"I've really liked the way that our offense is starting to come together and move," Poles said Wednesday. "I like the way Justin is trending, and I think adding another big body who's physical, explosive, great leaping ability, can stretch the field but also is violent with the ball in his hands, as well as a blocker, I think that enhances everyone around him."
Fields has made significant strides since Week 7 in areas like passer rating (72.7 in weeks 1-6 and 103.4 in weeks 7-8) and completion percentage (55% to 68%). He helped the Bears' offense put up 33 and 29 points on the road at New England and Dallas, and had 211 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys.
The quarterback's improvement motivated the Bears to do what they could from a roster-building perspective to aid his development. Claypool, a 2020 second-round pick, is under contract through the 2023 season.
A look at the underwhelming list of pending free agent receivers, including Nelson Agholor, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman, influenced Poles' decision to act now.