Chicago Bears sign assistant GM Ian Cunningham to a contract extension

When Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles opened his predraft remarks at a news conference Tuesday, the first thing he did was give a shout-out to assistant GM Ian Cunningham for his help in the team’s rebuild.

One day later, a source confirmed the Bears have signed Cunningham to a contract extension. Cunningham, whom Poles hired in January 2022, has been a GM candidate the last two hiring cycles and interviewed with the Los Angeles Chargers and Washington Commanders in January. ESPN first reported news of the extension.

“I am blessed out of my socks to have him by my side through this process,” Poles said with Cunningham sitting next to him at the news conference. “Especially when you reflect back to the first two years getting this thing off the ground, to have a guy like him that’s not a yes-man, that keeps me in line when I start getting off track, to keep our staff together when I get pulled in different directions. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for Ian being there and being an unbelievable partner.”

Cunningham joined the Bears with 14 years of front-office experience. He worked for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2017-21, finishing as director of player personnel. He opened his career as a personnel assistant and area scout with the Baltimore Ravens from 2008-16.

Like Poles, Cunningham is a former offensive lineman. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 as an undrafted free agent after playing at Virginia.

Despite not finding a match with a GM job the last two years, Cunningham said he has been “extremely grateful for the opportunity” to help remake the Bears roster.

“Not many people in any walk in life get to work with arguably one of their best friends,” Cunningham said. “So for me to be able to work alongside him, for him to trust me, we all knew that this was his goal. I have a similar goal.

“I know my opportunity will come. It’s been a fun ride. Looking forward to this week and kind of seeing things through.”