George Halas knew by the end of 1973 that the Chicago Bears had become the laughingstock of the NFL. His traditional ways of building a roster weren’t working anymore. He was 78 years old by that time. The team hadn’t drafted well for years. The team hadn’t posted a winning record in eight seasons. It was time for a change. Halas didn’t want to gamble on a fresh-faced executive, though. If he was going to bring in a general manager, he wanted one of the best. He managed to lure reigning Executive of the Year Jim Finks away from the Minnesota Vikings.
That decision changed the fate of the Bears franchise. Finks steadily stockpiled loads of talent on the roster, including four Hall of Famers, culminating in the 1985 Super Bowl championship. It might be time to revisit that strategy.
For over three decades now, the McCaskey family has tried to find a GM that can finally return this organization to championship status. None of them have measured up to the task. Some built good rosters, but either couldn’t find the right quarterback or the right head coach. Now it looks like Ryan Poles is walking down the same exact path. His choice of Matt Eberflus already looks like a disaster. The team is 0-2 and have lost their last 12 games dating back to last season. It feels more possible by the day that another change is needed.
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If that is the case, team president Kevin Warren must dispense with exploring for the next big thing. He needs to break out the checkbook and go hunting for the biggest fish he can hook.
The Chicago Bears must seek a proven commodity.
That is to say, a general manager or executive equivalent with a proven track record for talent evaluation and team-building. It is a safe assumption most GMs won’t abandon elite quarterbacks. So Brett Veach, Duke Tobin, Brandon Beane, Tom Telesco, Eric DeCosta, and Howie Roseman are likely out of the question. Knowing this, here are the biggest names out there that the Bears may have a chance to lure to Chicago.
John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks GM)
The man is credited with drafting 14 Pro Bowl players during his long stint in the Pacific Northwest. He built the Seahawks Super Bowl championship team in 2013 and did a marvelous job retooling the roster over the past two off-seasons to make them a playoff contender again. Remember that head coach Pete Carroll is 72 years old. His time in the NFL is winding down. There is also no elite QB in place. Geno Smith is a good player but not what anybody would call a franchise guy. Schneider is still only 52 years old. He’d be perfect.
Les Snead (Los Angeles Rams GM)
One of the most unconventional GMs in recent memory. While Snead had his share of big draft hits, including future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald, his biggest successes have come from his wheeling and dealing on the trade market. His blockbuster deals for Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford helped push the Rams to their Super Bowl title in 2021. He has a sharp eye for offensive talent and understands how to build around a quarterback. Like Schneider, he’s only 52. With Stafford also getting older, it might feel like a good time to bounce.
Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM)
The Chicago Bears came painfully close to hiring Licht back in 2012 before opting for Phil Emery. That is one they probably want back. Since joining the Bucs in 2014, he has routinely found Pro Bowl talents like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, Devin White, Tristan Wirfs, and Antoine Winfield. That roster was the perfect setup for Tom Brady when he arrived in 2020, guiding them to a Super Bowl title. He could do the same thing in Chicago. Offering him a pay raise might be enough in light of their current QB and head coach situations.