GM Ryan Poles knew what he wanted to do the moment he took over the Chicago Bears. To remake the front office, he would first need to find a lieutenant he could trust. Somebody worthy of the brand new assistant GM role he planned to install. The first-ever in Bears history. His choice ended up being Eagles director of player personnel Ian Cunningham. A product of the Baltimore Ravens scouting system, Cunningham is considered one of the rising stars in the NFL. Many feel he’s a future GM-in-waiting.
For those who know him, one of his greatest strengths is said to be communication. He has an uncanny ability to sway players, convincing them to join the team over other options. Considering the Bears are about to enter a rebuilding phase where attracting free agents is difficult, such talents can be precious. For Cunningham, his biggest test yet is set to arrive on Tuesday with the arrival of restricted free agent Ryan Bates for a team visit.
Bates is scheduled to begin his visit with the #Bears on Tuesday.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 22, 2022
Bates will be hard to pull away. Bills will be willing to match reasonable offer sheet. https://t.co/OStrpFuhps
— DaBearsBlog (@dabearsblog) March 21, 2022
#Bills RFA LG Ryan Bates #71
Three game film review from ‘21
-Came away stunned
-Phenomenal football player
-Stud in pass pro
-Strong hands/solid thru his core
-Foot quickness shows in pulls/zone
-25 years old
— Brandon Robinson (@BRobNFL) March 21, 2022
Bates is considered one of the biggest sleepers of 2022 free agency.
Used as a backup for most of last season, the Buffalo Bills were forced to thrust the 25-year old into the starting left guard spot in Week 16. He allowed a paltry four pressures on Josh Allen over the next six games. Outstanding performance in every respect. Some who have watched his film believe he has so much potential still to explore. He would be perfect for a team like the Bears trying to build around Justin Fields.
So why is Ian Cunningham vital to this situation? He is the man that knows Bates the most. He was part of the Philadelphia front office that signed the offensive lineman as an undrafted free agent in 2019. This is an advantage no other team pursuing the guard has. That familiarity should help the Bears understand what Bates is looking for. If the assistant GM can make the right sales pitch, it will come down to whether Poles makes a strong enough offer to dissuade Buffalo from matching the contract.
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