Bears’ Ryan Pace on hot seat: 10 best GM candidates to replace him

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  • Chicago Bears
    Chicago Bears
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Ryan Pace
    American football executive
  • Omar Khan
    American football executive

The Chicago Bears are nearing the end of their tumultuous 2021 season, which means we’re less than a month away from an offseason of change.

While it’s a foregone conclusion that Matt Nagy is out as head coach after this season, there’s been speculation about a front office restructure that could find Ryan Pace out as general manager, although he could find another position within the organization.

Here are 10 general manager candidates the Bears should consider to replace Pace, should they choose that direction:

Champ Kelly | Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel

AP Photo

If the Bears are searching for a new GM, they should start with a rising star within their organization in Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel Champ Kelly. Kelly, who has been with the Bears since 2015, was promoted to his current role in 2017, where he’s been responsible for evaluating draft players, pro stuff and has even served as a conduit between the front office and a lot of the players, per Dan Pompei. Kelly has previously interviewed for GM openings with the Denver Broncos (2021) and New York Jets (2019).

Omar Khan | Steelers Vice President of Football and Business Administration

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Given the success the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise has had, it would be wise for the Bears to pick the brain of Omar Khan, the vice president of football and business administration for the Steelers. Khan has been with Pittsburgh since 2001, where he served as football administration coordinator. He was promoted to director of football administration in 2011 before landing his current role in 2016. Before joining the Steelers, Khan worked with the New Orleans Saints from 1997-2001. Given Khan isn’t the expected successor as GM in Pittsburgh, it’s feasible to assume he could look elsewhere for an opportunity.

Rick Smith | Former Houston Texans General Manager

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The Bears haven’t been a competent franchise for awhile, which is why they need someone with experience taking a franchise from nothing to something. They should look at former Houston Texans GM Rick Smith, who took an expansion franchise and turned them into a playoff contender. Smith served as the Texans GM from 2006-2017 before stepping away to be with his wife, who was battling breast cancer. Houston hired a new GM and things went downhill for the franchise at that point. Smith has been out of the game for four years, and he could be looking for another opportunity.

Will McClay | Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel

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Will McClay is someone who’s been a coveted general manager option for many teams over the years. But for all intents and purposes, McClay is content where he currently is as the Cowboys’ Vice President of Player Personnel. McClay, who’s served in several roles with the Cowboys since 2009, has been praised for his ability to bridge gaps between ownership, coaching staff, scouting staff and players, and he’s someone that should no doubt be atop Chicago’s list of GM candidates. But again, the challenge will be even getting McClay to agree to interview for the GM position when he seems content in Dallas.

Joe Hortiz | Ravens Director of Player Personnel

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With the Bears eyeing a rebuild, they should look no further than to a world-class organization with a strong front office that has had success with rebuilding their roster in the Baltimore Ravens. Ravens Director of Player Personnel Joe Horitz has been part of the organization since 1998, and he’s someone who’s an appealing option for Chicago. After serving in several scouting roles for Baltimore, including Director of College Scout from 2009-2019, he was promoted to his current role. Horitz has been with a franchise that’s won two Super Bowl titles and found an array of success, and that alone is a reason to consider him.

JoJo Wooden | Chargers Director of Player Personnel

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While Chargers Director of Player Personnel JoJo Wooden isn’t a well-known name among the general public, he’s someone whose reputation precedes him in league circles. Wooden joined the Chargers back in 2013, where he oversees the pro and college scouting departments, and he appears poised to take the next step as a general manager. Before joining the Chargers, he spent 16 seasons with the New York Jets from 1997-2012, where he spent six years as their Assistant Director of Player Personnel. Wooden interviewed for the Washington Football Team GM opening last offseason.

Mike Borgonzi | Chiefs Assistant General Manager

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While Bears fans might be weary of any potential Kansas City hires, Chiefs Assistant General Manger Mike Borgonzi is an intriguing option at GM. Borgonzi has learned from the likes of current Chiefs GM Brett Veach and current Indianapolis Colts GM Eric Ballard, both of whom have their respective franchises on the winning track. Borgonzi served as Kansas City’s Director of Football Operations before being promoted to his current role this year. Borgonzi is someone who always pops up as a GM candidate, but he usually elects to remain with the Chiefs. If the Bears can pry Borgonzi away from Kansas City, there’s also a chance he could bring Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy with him as the Bears’ new head coach.

Ed Dodds | Colts Assistant General Manager

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Colts Assistant General Manager Ed Dodds is considered one of the NFL’s most respected talent evaluators, and he’s someone who could finally get an opportunity to serve as GM. Dodds has worked alongside Colts GM Chris Ballard since 2017, where he was promoted to assistant GM in 2018, and previously spent the previous 10 years with the Seattle Seahawks, where he helped build their Super Bowl roster. Last year, Dodds received interest from the Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers, interview for both vacant GM positions. He’s someone who’s surely going to get some traction this cycle, which could include the Bears.

Morocco Brown | Colts Director of College Scouting

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Colts Director of College Scouting Morocco Brown is an intriguing general manager candidate and a familiar name for Bears fans, as he served as director of pro scouting for Chicago from 2001-07. Brown has 20 years of experience in the NFL, where he’s served as the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Cleveland Browns (2014-15) after serving as Director Player Personnel with Washington (2008-13). During the last cycle, Brown interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons GM position, but he wasn’t a finalist for the job. This time around, he figures to be another popular name among GM candidates, where his eye for talent is certainly appealing.

Louis Riddick | Former Eagles Director of Player Personnel

AP Photo/Terrance Williams

While Louis Riddick has become a fixture on ESPN, he made a name for himself in front office roles in the NFL in the past decade-plus. Riddick spent 13 years between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington, where he served as the Eagles’ Director of Pro Personnel from 2010-13, and was in the same role with Washington from 2005-07. Riddick is someone who’s gained steam as a GM candidate for his knowledge of the game and ability to communicate. Riddick has made it clear he’s interested in GM opportunities, and he’d certainly be an intriguing candidate for the Bears.

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