Bears general manager taking calls for No. 1 pick

INDIANAPOLIS — The top pick in the NFL draft is available to the highest bidder.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who is committed to third-year quarterback Justin Fields, has engaged in “starter conversations” with teams interested in moving up to No. 1.

The Texans, Colts, Raiders, Panthers and Falcons all own top-nine picks and are in the quarterback market, scouting Bryce Young, Will Levis, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson.

“Nothing specific about players, picks and all that,” Poles told reporters Tuesday at the NFL combine. “It’s just interest.”

First things first: The Bears have about $98.5 million in salary-cap space for free-agent shopping.

Even that wallet can’t fill all the needs on the roster, so a package of draft picks under affordable team control would accelerate the rebuild.

“It just depends how far back,” Poles said of trading. “But we need a lot, and that gives us more opportunity to bring in more players.”

Bears general manager Ryan Poles said the team is willing to trade the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL draft.
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The Bears’ plans puts pressure on the Texans, who hold the No. 2 pick and must decide whether to pay a premium to trade up one spot and secure their top prize or risk settling for their second-ranked quarterback.

The idea of getting jumped is harder to stomach if it’s the AFC South rival Colts moving up from No. 4.

“We’re not necessarily worried about what other teams are doing,” Texans GM Nick Caserio said. “You try to make decisions you feel are best for your team.”

Texans GM Nick Caserio
Texans GM Nick Caserio

It’s a chance to even out history for the Bears, who traded two third-round picks and a fourth-round pick to swap picks from No. 3 to No. 2 (and select quarterback bust Mitch Trubisky) in 2017.

“We have a trade-chart simulator,” Caserio said. “The issue when you are trying to do a trade is your model says one thing and their model says another thing, so we are speaking two different languages. How do we find a resolution? That’s a little bit more of an exercise when we get into April.”

Neither Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll nor general manager John Schneider denied the recent report by The Athletic that quarterback Russell Wilson made a power play with ownership to get them fired before he was traded to the Broncos last offseason.

“Honestly, water under the bridge,” Schneider said.

The Seahawks, who went to the playoffs with free-agent-to-be Geno Smith, got the last laugh (and a boatload of draft picks, including No. 5 overall) as the Broncos were a disaster during Wilson’s career-worst year.

“With the guys that I’ve coached, I’m always going to hang with them, and I’m never going to leave them,” Carroll said. “Regardless of what has happened or things that have been said at all, if you hang with them, it all comes back around. I like to demonstrate that faith in the relationship and the depth of what we did together.”

Bills safety Jordan Poyer is a free agent and recently said that he would like to play in a state “that doesn’t take half my money,” referring to New York’s income taxes.

Asked about that comment, Bills GM Brandon Beane quipped, “Can you call Gov. [Kathy] Hochul and get mine reduced, too?”

The Eagles have 10 starters who are free agents.

Even for master salary-cap manipulator Howie Roseman, that’s too many to re-sign.

“We’re not capable of getting all those guys back,” the general manager said. “We also understand we’re in a good situation in terms of picks and we have a lot of guys under contract, not just for this year but going forward.

“It’s hard to make offers that’s not really in the range of what a player is going to get. Our players … and the success they’ve had, we’re just going to be honest with them on the range, and we understand that they’ve put themselves in this position.”