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The Chicago Bears are in the middle of their search for a new general manager after firing Ryan Pace last week.
Chairman George McCaskey, President/CEO Ted Phillips, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, VP of Player Engagement Lamar ‘Soup’ Campbell and Senior VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tanesha Wade will be conducting the GM search for the Bears.
They’ve cast a wide net of diverse candidates for the job, which includes some pretty intriguing names with some impressive resumes.
Our Bears Wire staff is sharing their top three candidates for Chicago’s next GM and why they would be a good fit:
Ed Dodds | AP Photo
Ed Dodds: Dodds should be considered among the top GM candidates given his wealth of experience and eye for talent. He’s been praised as one of the league’s best scouts and talent evaluators. Dodds has worked alongside Colts GM Chris Ballard for the last four years as assistant GM, where he’s gotten a look at how things run. Before Dodds joined Indianapolis, he spent a decade with the Seahawks as a national scout and senior personnel executive, where he played a big part in building Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning roster.
Rick Smith: Smith would be a slam-dunk hire for the Bears. He’s someone who has experience serving as a GM and head of football operations with the Texans, where he helped turn an expansion team into a playoff contender. Smith’s fingerprints are all over the success of Houston during their four AFC South titles and four playoff wins. With the new GM reporting directly to George McCaskey, a football fan, the new GM needs to know what he’s doing. Smith is that guy.
Omar Khan: Khan would be another sensational hire, if the Bears can lure him from Pittsburgh. When you look at the Steelers organization, they haven’t had a losing season since 2006, and it’s that kind of winning culture Chicago would like to establish. As the Steelers’ VP of football & business administration, Khan has extensive salary cap experience that would benefit him as a GM. As previously mentioned, the new GM would report directly to McCaskey, who isn’t a football guy, so the added experience of working alongside Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and having background both on the personnel and business side of things should be valuable.
Champ Kelly | AP Photo
Ed Dodds: He seems to be the consensus top pick for the job, but for good reason. Not only does Dodds’ resume speak for itself, but his no-nonsense attitude has also me particularly intrigued. Too many times, the Bears have hired the people who tell them what they want to hear and avoid those who want to shake things up. Dodds wouldn’t necessarily be part of the latter, but he won’t sugarcoat the truth either. His work with the Colts and Seahawks stands out, particularly as a scout, and he’s been able to have success with two organizations. That’s something we never saw with Ryan Pace.
Rick Smith: It’s admittedly easier to evaluate Smith’s performance as he’s had the role of GM in the past with the Texans, but with great success. During his tenure, Smith turned the Texans into a consistent playoff threat, making solid draft selections such as J.J. Watt, Duane Brown, Connor Barwin, DeAndre Hopkins, and Deshaun Watson. The only reason he left the team in late 2017 was due to his late wife’s health issues. Smith now wants to get back into a team’s front office and given he’s not only had success with the Texans, but the fact he was able to succeed with such a volatile ownership group, means he can easily handle the McCaskey mess.
Champ Kelly: It’s not all rotten inside Halas Hall. I would love to see Kelly be promoted to GM, a move we haven’t seen from this team in years. Kelly has played a key role in scouting during his time with the Bears and has started to garner interest from other teams within the last year or so. He’s seen the good and the bad inside this organization and has earned respect from many of the players on the team. The Bears haven’t been able to fill the position from outside these last few cycles, why not try it from inside the building? Kelly is qualified and would bring some needed stability to the position.
Morocco Brown | AP Photo
Morocco Brown: Brown knows Chicago. He understands what it takes to be inside Halas Hall, as he was with the team for seven seasons. Brown returning to Chicago, who went to a Super Bowl in his first stint, would be a good hire. He was also Chris Ballard’s right-hand man… It makes sense.
Ed Dodds: You have to take from teams that have found success. Dodds has been with the Colts front office, a team that has found great success overall over the last 20 years. Even though Dodds only joined the team in 2017, he’s been there for multiple playoff runs, along with building a very good roster. Before then, he was with the Seahawks. Seattle and Indianapolis have both been successful during the 2010s. He helped build their Super Bowl roster early in Russell Wilson’s career. Imagine what he could do in Chicago.
Omar Khan: Khan would be a solid GM for the Bears, going with my same theory, take from successful teams. Khan has seen the Steelers go to three Super Bowls, winning two since he joined in 2001. Chicago bringing him in could be their best choice, even though I have him at three.
Rick Smith | Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Smith: Smith is the only candidate with previous GM experience. If Justin Fields is the franchise quarterback, the culture of the team must change. Smith took a 2-14 Houston Texans expansion franchise and helped it become a six-time AFC South division champion. He scouted talent and negotiated contracts for J.J. Watt, Arian Foster, and DeAndre Hopkins, among others. He possesses a pedigree that none of the other candidates possess. Hiring guys because they were in the room of a winning team isn’t a guarantee of success, as we’ve seen with numerous Belichick assistant coaching hires and Ryan Pace.
Ed Dodds: Dodds is rumored to be one of the best NFL scouts. However, scouting is only one aspect of the GM’s job. Dodds was not the only person involved in personnel decisions while scouting for Seattle. Pete Carroll and John Schneider were almost certainly the final decision-makers. During his time in Indianapolis, the Colts have had a successful draft. But, once again, Morocco Brown is a highly regarded scout on the staff. Add in the fact that he’s the assistant general manager, and it’s unclear how Dodds and GM Chris Ballard’s responsibilities are divided. In New Orleans, Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton were unquestionably more important than Ryan Pace. It’d be a shame if the Bears made the same mistake with Dodds.
Everyone Else: Flip a coin if you can’t get Smith or Dodds. The majority of the candidates have never served as general managers. It’s difficult to say how influential they are in their current positions. Some candidates, such as Joe Schoen, are downright amusing. But this is the NFL, where a special teams coach for a winning team with a hall of fame coach is named head coach of one of the league’s marquee teams in a major market.