So that was March? A recap of one of the busiest, dizziest months in Chicago Bears history.

Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS

So, uh … That was March, huh?



Wow. Wow. Wow.

Give yourself a moment, Chicago Bears fans, to regroup and regain your equilibrium. Because let’s be honest, that may have been the busiest and dizziest month in team history, a wildly eventful 31 days during what is arguably the most important offseason in the franchise’s 104-year existence.

The Bears started the month in Indianapolis, looking to finish their homework at the NFL scouting combine and, most importantly, pushing for clarity with their quarterback situation. And they finished March with a direction that positions them to draft their next possible savior at No. 1 overall. (All signs point toward a union with USC’s Caleb Williams.)

Seriously, though. What a month it was.

Trades. Signings. Stadium developments.

Exits. Arrivals.

“Quietest offseason in Chicago Bears history,” Chairman George McCaskey quipped at the end of the NFL owners meetings in Florida.

Talk about March Madness. Talk about a rapid cycle of happenings where it felt, at times, like every breath the Bears took became a headline that triggered a national conversation.

So, yeah, that was March. Let’s review.

‘Make Plan A work’

On the first day of the month, all the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class held their media sessions at the combine. That included Williams, who tried to provide a thumbnail of his mindset as he approaches the NFL draft.

Williams emphasized how he wants to land in “a place that wants to win.”

“The whole 360,” he continued. “All the way from the top down to the janitors and the people who make everything run. (I want it where) everybody wants to win, everyone is part of that and we all take care of each other.”

The Bears were scribbling notes.

And when asked if he would be disappointed to not be selected No. 1, Williams just smiled.

“It’s not a thought in my mind,” he said. “I don’t think I’m not going to be No. 1. I put in all the hard work, all the time, effort and energy into being that. So I don’t think of a Plan B. That’s kind of how I do things in my life. I don’t think of a Plan B. I stay on Plan A and then when things don’t work out, I find a way to make Plan A work.”

Guess what? Williams’ Plan A seems to be working. He is almost certainly going to be selected with the top pick in 3½ weeks. And it’s likely to be Bears general manager Ryan Poles doing the picking, confirming last week that his initial meeting with Williams at the start of March provided an immediate connection.

Both emanate a chilled-out confidence along with a cutthroat competitiveness. Their clicking was palpable.

While Indianapolis broke the ice with Williams, the Bears later reunited with him on his home turf in California. On March 20, Poles, coach Matt Eberflus, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, assistant GM Ian Cunningham and at least five others with the organization stopped in at USC’s pro day. That was the culmination of a getting-to-know-you visit with Williams that spanned three days and included a night out at The Bird Streets Club in West Hollywood and a day on campus watching film, talking ball and drawing on the whiteboard.

And all that came within three days of the Bears flipping the page from the Justin Fields era in Chicago. Fields’ roller-coaster three-season existence as a Bear ended midway through March. Poles drove to Eberflus’ house so they could call Fields and deliver the news together.

Fields’ exit came after a flurry of quarterback moves around the league exposed a trade market in which Fields’ services — especially as a possible starting option — were in limited demand.

So he is now off to Pittsburgh as a QB2 for now, essentially replacing Mitch Trubisky for the second time in 35 months after Trubisky turned his Steelers gear in and headed back to Buffalo to be Josh Allen’s backup.

Oh, and Poles had to break the Fields trade news to his 11-year-old son, Mason, who has the quarterback’s jersey on his bedroom wall, went as Fields for Halloween last year and had built up a pretty solid bond with the Bears’ QB1.

“It kind of puts into perspective how difficult those moves are,” Poles said.

The building process

Sure, quarterback developments were the most significant and talked about occurrences in a chaotic Bears month. But soooo much more happened, an event log that included but was not limited to …

In the ongoing hunt for a new stadium, Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren made a sharp and notable pivot — away from a possible megaplex on the 326 acres of Arlington Heights land the team purchased in 2023 and toward a grand lakefront vision that could keep the team playing near their current Soldier Field home and in a way where a 365-day-per-year sports and entertainment mecca could spring to life in downtown Chicago.

“All of these projects require vision. They require tenacity. They require a lot of thought and planning,” Warren said. “But they also require momentum. And I strongly believe that we’re building momentum toward that museum area.”

Was this all simply a negotiating shell-game maneuver to gain leverage in ongoing tax negotiations with the suburban project? Or a legitimate maneuver in which the Bears stadium venture could also enliven the city? As March turned to April, the latter seems more likely.

Poles’ roster-building efforts, meanwhile, remained disciplined but purposeful with 14 new players signing, a list that included veteran safety Kevin Byard and running back D’Andre Swift.

The Bears also traded for two likely Week 1 starters, including six-time Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen, he of the NFL’s prestigious 10,000-yard club, an elite fraternity of 55 members and counting.

Think about that for a second. The Bears landed a playmaking pass-catcher with nearly twice as many receiving yards as their organization’s career leader (Johnny Morris, 5,059 from 1958-1967) and it was maybe the fifth or sixth most notable development of the month.

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson? He had himself quite the March too. First, he was hit with the franchise tag. Fifty hours later, Johnson agreed to a four-year, $76 million contract extension. Then at a Halas Hall news conference the following week, he revealed his Pro Bowl breakthrough season in 2023 came amid significant personal tumult — a sexual addiction he said sent him into therapy.

And why, one reporter asked, did Johnson feel compelled to reveal such personal details while discussing his new contract?

“For one,” Johnson said, “it’s because I know I’m not the only one going through it. Two, it’s OK to go through stuff. It’s OK to not be perfect. … Like man, we are human too. We go through things. Everybody goes through things.

“I feel like people feel like you have to put a mask on, you’ve got to cover it up. Like, nah, it’s OK to go through things. It’s OK to seek help. It’s OK to be vulnerable.”

Like we said, it was a newsy month.

Social issues

Shortly before last season ended, Poles temporarily deleted social media from his phone. In an offseason with so much at stake and so many huge decisions to make, the Bears GM didn’t want to be distracted, didn’t want his mind cluttered by a sewer pipe of misinformation and enraged debate.

But when free agency began, he broke that freeze. After all, the quickest way to keep up with free-agency movement across the NFL is via social media. So Poles logged back on. And he might have wished, at times, that he never had. Because March 2024 might have been the month when Bears Twitter, or X or whatever we’re calling it these days, went fully off the rails. And we’re not just talking about the activity of three-time NBA champion and current Bulls color analyst Stacey King, who spent the first half of the month expressing his passionate allegiance to Fields and blowtorching anyone who disagreed. King then essentially reacted to the Fields trade with double-birds flying at those who came after him with a “We told you so” posture.

To his audience of 89,000-plus followers, King wrote: “I’m not apologizing for (poop emoji). See that’s the problem with some of you clowns on twitter you want validation for being right about your personal opinions and want a formal apology from people who don’t agree with your narrative…Good luck with that especially from me son! Again here’s a cookie for being right with your opinion now go play!”

In King’s defense, his online bio warns that anyone bringing “trolling energy” will get “flamed up and blocked like a shot by Victor Wembanyama.”

Heard it through the grapevine

Sure enough, X continues to establish itself as the industry leader in dispute, a place where rational discourse regularly gets vomited on by hyper-reactive rage and startling vitriol. And because of the platform’s current algorithmic faucet, many became exposed to a flood of Bears content in March that bordered on ridiculous.

Early in the month, one X user jumped into a “Spaces” conversation claiming to have supremely credible intel from within his barbershop that Fields was without a doubt staying in Chicago as the Bears QB1.

Apparently — and we’re very loosely summarizing here — someone’s best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who is going with a girl who saw Justin pass out at 31 Flavors. Or something like that.

Whatever the case, credit cleat artist Marvin Baroota, who has spent the past seven seasons assisting a wide array of Bears players with fantastic shoe designs, for helping to extinguish that fire. Baroota said he simply texted Fields about the rumor — “some dude at your barbershop talking lol” — and then posted the screengrab of what he asserts was Fields’ reply.

“I don’t go to a barbershop lol.”

Mystery solved. We think.

Old-school journalism techniques at their finest.

Fields was dealt to the Steelers on March 16, ending the quarterback’s time with the Bears.

Now what?

Back inside the real NFL world, the Bears remained the center-stage attraction over three days in Orlando at the league’s spring meetings. Poles, Warren, Eberflus and McCaskey spoke publicly about current events with the organization.

Eberflus talked at length about everything ranging from his quarterback development plans to his new beard. Poles gushed with anticipation about the possible/probable union with Williams. Warren doubled down on his vision to create an iconic closed-roof stadium and recreation district on the museum campus near Lake Michigan.

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If all goes well in the months ahead, Warren asserted, “the plan would be to put a shovel in the ground on the lakefront.”

Oh, and the Bears were officially selected to play against the Houston Texans in the Hall of Fame game to open the NFL preseason in August. That will be the stage setter for a Hall of Fame weekend in which Bears greats Steve McMichael, Devin Hester and Julius Peppers will all see their busts go into football’s most prestigious museum.

As we said, a lot is happening.

So that was March.



Wow. Wow. Wow.

And when the league meetings ended, Poles left Florida and flew directly to Louisiana — for the pro day of LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. Sure, the Bears are almost certainly going to draft Williams. That’s the consensus from inside the organization and from around the league. But it never hurts to see the evaluation process through, right?

April will be another eagerly anticipated month. Don’t be surprised if there are soon renderings of a proposed downtown stadium and a brochure-like informational video to go with it, a grand presentation that will create new headlines, new conversation and new negotiations.

There will also be at least one more landmark football move for the Bears in an historic offseason.

Save the date: April 25. Night 1 of the draft. Poles has the privilege of picking at No. 1. And he has a pretty intriguing selection to use at No. 9 as well.

Said McCaskey: “There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of buzz. I think Bears fans are optimistic. We’ve got to make hay in the draft.”

There are more than three weeks until then. And if March 2024 taught us anything, it’s best to always stay nimble and ready for news. Who knows what might happen next?