The Chicago Bears continue their search for a new general manager and head coach as the search group led by Bill Polian continues to interview potential candidates. The position is considered one of the best opportunities available due to a quality defense and a group of young players already in place, including quarterback Justin Fields. Despite his lack of success, former Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace deserves credit for putting the team in the position to hire the best candidate possible.
As if right now, here's my rankings of every #Bears interview candidate
1. Ed Dodds
2. Rick Smith
3. Jeff Ireland
4. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah
5. Joe Schoen
6. Morocco Brown
7. Glenn Cook
8. Ran Carthon
9. Rex Hogan
— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) January 12, 2022
Ryan Pace Drafting Justin Fields Already Made The General Manager Position More Attractive
Having Fields, a young quarterback with massive upside, is the biggest selling point that Bears’ ownership has right now to lure the best front office candidate to become the new general manager. Last offseason, Pace did everything he possibly could to fix the quarterback position for Chicago, whether it was trading for any available top-level quarterback or drafting the best quarterback available in the 2021 NFL Draft. After failing to acquire veteran quarterbacks Carson Wentz, Derek Carr, or Russell Wilson via trade, the Bears traded up in the draft to select Fields 11th overall.
Here is the Re-Kap of the #Bears selection of quarterback Justin Fields of Ohio State with the 11th pick in the first round of the 2021 #NFL Draft. Best day in Chicago sports since the #Cubs won the World Series. #TakeThat #TakeThatNation pic.twitter.com/ORWmSX0hFU
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) April 30, 2021
To draft Fields, Pace traded the Bears’ first-round draft selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and their first-round selection in this year’s draft. Despite the loss of a vital first-round select in this year’s draft, Chicago has a promising young quarterback that many draft analysts believe has the potential to be a future All-Pro talent. Finding a quarterback is the most difficult task any NFL general manager could face, but Chicago’s new general manager will now only have to focus on the development of Fields rather than having to find a quarterback.
One of the many reasons why Pace’s job as Bears’ general manager was difficult at the beginning was because of the mess created by former general manager Phil Emery. Emery, following the 2013 season, re-signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a record-breaking contract extension that was worth 127 million dollars. A year later, Pace was hired as the general manager and tried his best to trade Cutler, but was unable to due to the contract. It wouldn’t be until 2017 when Chicago was able to move on from the massive contract as the team drafted Mitchell Trubisky second overall in that year’s draft.
Had Pace been able to move on from Cutler immediately, he may have been more willing to address the quarterback position in the draft during his first two seasons as Bears’ general manager. Now in 2022, whoever becomes Chicago’s next general manager can focus on addressing other weaknesses on the Bears’ roster as the quarterback position will be set with Fields. Other NFL teams such as the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings are also conducting GM searches, but both teams will need to find a new starting quarterback within the next two years.
MNF's Louis Riddick reacting to the firing of Ryan Pace on @dpshow
"That's what they needed to do. I do believe that that becomes job number one that people would want. I believe that become job number one because of Justin Fields."
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) January 11, 2022
There Is A Competitive Core Already In Place For The Bears’ New General Manager
The roster left by Pace is one of the best rosters for any potential general manager hire could have to start their tenure. The next Bears’ general manager will have to rebuild the roster, but they will be able to do it in a transitional manner than a complete overhaul. Although the Bears’ will have several immovable players due to their large salary costs, including All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson, there is still a respectable defense in place for the 2022 season. Mack missed half of the season due to a foot injury but will team up together again with Pro Bowl edge-rusher Robert Quinn next season. Quinn, who is under contract in 2022, finished the 2021 season with 18.5 sacks, a franchise record.
Robert Quinn with his 19th sack on the season.
More than making up for last year.
Imagine if Khalil Mack and Quinn actually got to play together healthy.
— Max Markham (@MaxMarkhamNFL) January 9, 2022
There will be a young core of players on both offense and defense for the Bears that will make the next general manager’s job easier. The Bears offense will have Fields, running back David Montgomery, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet, and two tackles in Tevin Jenkins and Larry Borom. On defense, the Bears will have linebackers Roquan Smith, Trevis Gipson, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga. The group of young players allows whoever Chicago hires to build around instead of having to find a talented core of players.
It is important that the next general manager has that core of players as one of Pace’s mistakes was trading away valuable draft selections leaving the Bears with only five draft selections for the upcoming draft in April. Despite only having five draft picks, Chicago is slated to a good amount of salary cap space to work with when the new league year begins in March. The Bears, with additional roster cuts, could be able to significantly add on to their roster via free agency and be competitive in 2022.
The 2021 Chicago Bears draft class
QB Justin Fields
OT Teven Jenkins
OT Larry Borom
RB Khalil Herbert
WR Dazz Newsome
CB Thomas Graham Jr.
DT Khyiris Tonga
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) May 1, 2021
Pace has provided the next general manager a better situation to come into than Pace did back in 2015. When Emery was fired in 2014, there were very few quality players to build around, which led to the Bears being mired in a rebuild for three seasons. Polian and George McCaskey will be able to hire the best candidate because of the foundation Pace was able to put in place, and that is important to remember if Chicago makes the playoffs in 2022.