Bears Extend Assistant GM Ian Cunningham

One of the more popular general manager interview candidates in recent years, Ian Cunningham is in his third offseason as the Bears’ assistant GM. The team will reward its top front office lieutenant.

Cunningham has an extension in place, according to’s Adam Schefter. The team hired Cunningham to work as Ryan Poles‘ second-in-command in 2022, and despite the Bears not booking a playoff spot in that span, widespread interest has come in the form of GM interviews. While more should be on tap, the Bears are pleased with Cunningham’s work thus far.

This move comes as Poles remains on the contract he signed back in 2022. Contracts for assistant GMs and assistant coaches generally do not match the length of those awarded to top decision-makers, but Cunningham has some security — in the form of guaranteed money — moving forward. The Bears hired Cunningham from the Eagles in 2022; he was one of four Philly execs — along with Brandon Brown (Giants), Catherine Raiche (Browns) and Andy Weidl (Steelers) — to land an assistant GM job elsewhere that year.

Four teams have reached out to Cunningham about interviews over the past two years. Both clubs who were searching for GMs in 2023 — the Cardinals and Titans — met with him about jobs. This year, the Chargers and Commanders did so. It is believed Cunningham was offered the Cardinals’ GM job last year, but he turned down the position — one that ended up going to Monti Ossenfort. This year, Washington’s job came down to Cunningham and 49ers exec Adam Peters. The latter ended up with the position.

Peters came from a 49ers team that has ventured to four NFC championship games and two Super Bowls over the past five years, while the Bears — amid a rebuild — have gone 10-24 in that span. Cunningham receiving the level of attention he has despite the Bears’ on-field performance in this span reflects a high opinion around the league. Chicago’s Poles-led front office has made interesting moves during this rebuild, most notably the 2023 trade that sent the Panthers Bryce Young and ended up giving the Bears this year’s No. 1 overall pick. That selection is all but certain to turn into Caleb Williams on Thursday night.

The Bears now have an interesting opportunity to reset their quarterback contract clock around Williams, providing Poles and Cunningham more roster flexibility. While Chicago was expected to land more in a Justin Fields trade — one that ended up sending the team only a conditional sixth-round 2025 draft choice (from Pittsburgh) — the NFC North team is now off that rookie contract. Williams will not be extension-eligible until 2027. If the USC product shows promise early, Cunningham should not be expected to be around for much of the QB’s Windy City tenure. Until Cunningham lands/accepts a GM role, he will be in place as Poles’ right-hand man.

View Comments (4)