Hub Arkush: 6 people the Bears should pursue if they fire Ryan Pace
Should the Bears retain general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy?
If change is coming, the focus has to be on Pace.
As long as he is not involved in the decision on the top football guy, it doesn't matter if CEO Ted Phillips stays or goes. If he's fired, he will need to be replaced by two people.
The Bears will need a top football guy, and someone to run the business side, something Phillips has done well.
The top football guy should make the decision on Nagy.
In compiling a list of GM candidates, NFL sources were consulted. Whether any of the six would be better than Pace is not guaranteed. All offer excellent resumes.
1. Rick Smith: Former executive vice president of football operations and general manager of the Houston Texans. Smith was wildly successful in the draft, building the Texans into a perennial contender before resigning in 2017 due to a family illness. He has two rings as an assistant coach with Denver.
2. Omar Khan: Vice president of football and business administration of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's regarded as a secret weapon behind the success of VP/GM Kevin Colbert, and could replace Phillips and Pace, then hire a director of player personnel to oversee pro and college scouting directors. The McCaskeys are close with the Rooneys, the Steelers' owners.
3. Jeff Ireland: Assistant general manager and college scouting director of the New Orleans Saints. Ireland was hired by Bill Parcells and was the GM of the Dolphins from 2008 to 2013. He started strong but things soured after Parcells left, and his handling of a pre-draft interview with Dez Bryant and the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation were controversial. Ireland is the grandson of legendary Bears scout Jim Parmer, grew up around Papa Bear and the McCaskey family. Ireland has proved to be an excellent evaluator of talent.
4. George Paton: Vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings. Paton has been GM Rick Spielman's right-hand man ever since the two got their front office starts with the Bears in the late 1990s. Several sources report Paton, who was a finalist for the 49ers job before John Lynch was hired, has been ready for a number of years, but has been particular about which jobs he might consider.
5. John Dorsey: Former general manager at Kansas City and Cleveland, and a long time Green Bay scout. The Chiefs fired him after four seasons and building what would become their Super Bowl team, and just months after he traded up to 10th in the draft to take Patrick Mahomes. He was hired six months later by the Browns and fired two years later after acquiring most of the talent on the current 9-3 team. He is an outstanding talent evaluator, but obviously comes with some rough edges.
5A. Reggie McKenzie: Former general manager of the Oakland Raiders. Like Dorsey, McKenzie grew up in the business in Ron Wolfe's Green Bay Packers front office, and while his tenure as GM of the Raiders from 2012 to 2018 was neither a failure nor completely successful, he was fired due to the arrival of Jon Gruden and not necessarily based on his performance. McKenzie remains highly regarded around the league.
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The following are top talent evaluators seeking their first GM or top executive jobs and would be similar hires to Pace's six years ago:
Lake Dawson: Buffalo Bills, assistant director of college scouting.
Nick Caserio: New England Patriots, director of player personnel.
Joe Hortiz: Baltimore Ravens, director of player personnel.
Scott Fitterer: Seattle Seahawks, vice president of football operations.
Trent Kirchner: Seattle Seahawks, vice president of player personnel
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