Robert Quinn's long-term fit in Chicago never made sense once the Bears pivoted toward building for the future.
On Wednesday, the trade most expected for months finally arrived. Chicago sent Quinn to Philadelphia in exchange for a fourth-round pick, clearing their largest salary cap number and sending the 32-year-old to a contender when it became clear he wouldn't be able to chase a ring with the Bears.
New general manager Ryan Poles hadn't prioritized trading Quinn, even if it was financially logical. But when the Eagles came calling, Poles knew what to do.
"It just made too much sense for what we're trying to do," Poles said at Wednesday's press conference announcing the trade. "It's going to allow us to continue to build a highly competitive roster."
Quinn's trade didn't happen sooner because he still carried value to a locker room that needed a veteran presence. The owner of the Bears' single-season sacks record (18.5, recorded in 2021) stood as a model of what younger Chicago players should strive to become, and the Bears' 33-14 win over the Patriots stood as an example of the team's envisioned growth.
The timing of the trade, though, was unfortunate. Poles dealt Quinn to Philadelphia just days after Chicago defeated New England in Foxborough for the first time in franchise history.
Sometimes, that's just the way things go.
"I value the locker room and what it means and the culture," said Poles, who didn't rule out another trade but said other talks were quiet. "And it sucks to mess with that, to be completely honest with you. But, again, my job is to do what's best for this organization, not only now but in the future.
"I felt like that was the best move for us to make."
Linebacker Roquan Smith, who had his own dispute with management prior to the start of the 2022 season before returning to play a key role in Chicago's defense, learned of the Quinn trade while speaking with reporters. He was understandably emotional about the departure of one of the team's veteran leaders.
"Sucks," Smith said. "I have a great deal of respect for that guy. Damn. Crazy."
The trade and timing of it was just another example of how the business aspect can often be cold in professional sports. The responsibility now shifts to the shoulders of Smith and other teammates as the Bears continue to push toward a new, hopefully brighter future in Chicago.