Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles meets with the media at Halas Hall. Mar 16, 2023; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles speaks during a press conference at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Chicago Bears traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers on March 16, it put months of speculation to rest.

The Bears, who own the top pick in April’s NFL Draft thanks to a 2023 trade with the Carolina Panthers, decided to move on from the third-year quarterback in an attempt to restart their quarterback clock by presumably taking USC’s Caleb Williams to replace Fields.

Fields’ time with the team featured more bad moments than good moments. And debates will go back and forth for years as far as trying to determine who was responsible for the lack of success: the team or the player?

That question won’t be answered for years. But the one thing that’s clear at the moment is Bears general manager Ryan Poles was definitely expecting a more robust trade market for Fields.

Monday at the NFL League Meetings, Poles elaborated on this point. “I was a little bit surprised,” he said, via ESPN. “But as you do research and we have conversations, you have to kind of adjust to the market. But I think just with how other teams are built, because if you look at the beginning, there are probably teams that are looking at the draft for guys to fill in. On the back end, playoff teams probably have someone in place. So really it was a smaller pool of teams.”

Poles also said that while the team received offers from other teams, they chose to send Fields to Pittsburgh because it gave the best chance for the quarterback to be successful.

“They have a starter with Russ but there was more of an open competition, it felt like from my perspective, where there were other opportunities where there were some quarterbacks that were either veteran guys or young guys that had already been paid, so it would have been a tougher situation for him to get on the field,” Poles said.