In this piece I am going to go through how GM Jerry Angelo through the draft and free agency has built a Super Bowl caliber team.
Angelo has often taken some unfair criticism about early player moves that while he was GM in name, were not his decisions. The hate when so far as to inspire a Fire Jerry Angelo web site, that I am proud to say if I am not mistaken is now defunct. If Bears brass had listened and dismissed Angelo, where would we be now?
Prior to 1987 when Angelo took over the position of Director of Player Personnel for Tampa Bay for 14 years, he spent time as a scout on the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Once in Tampa Bay, Angelo took a consistently bad team who had an average win total in 21 years of 5 into a playoff contender that averaged around 9-10 wins per season during his tenure. He was partly or fully responsible for building a team that boasted players like Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Donnie Abraham and Warrick Dunn. He also was key in signing now Bears linebacker coach Hardy Nickerson and also Randall McDaniel. Those Tampa team's consistently had one of the best defenses in the league.
It is important to take a look at the years prior to Angelo for two reasons. One, to show the quality and quantity of players that he brought on that are still with team and also our GMless team did get a few things right before hiring Angelo.
Free Agency Signings
Mike Wells, DT, Detroit
In the 98 Draft, the Bears held their highest pick since the early 80s, they picked 5th. Many teams behind the Bears offered multiple first round picks to get into the Bears spot, but the Bears stuck with their pick, which led to this.
Curtis Enis,RB,Penn State
Alonzo Mayes,TE,Oklahoma State
Moses Moreno,QB,Colorado State
Enis is one of the biggest missteps the Bears have made in the draft. Not to totally dismiss the Bears draft, as three players in that draft had big impacts on the Bears. In the third round the Bears picked Olin Kruetz who became a 6-time Pro Bowler and the best center in the league. The also picked up Tony Parrish who had many good years roaming in the Bears secondary. Partick Mannelly, still plays longsnapper for the Bears.
99 saw the firing of Wanny, the botched signing of Dave McGinnis, the eventual rise of Dick Jauron to head coach, the release of Erik Kramer, a wasted year of Free Agency and the tragic death of Walter Payton.
Russell Davis,DT,North Carolina
Rex Tucker,T,Texas A&M
Marty Booker,WR,N.E. Louisiana
Warrick Holdman,LB,Texas A&M
Jerry Wisne,G,Notre Dame
Jerry Azumah,DB,New Hampshire
Sulecio Sanford,WR,Middle Tennessee State
The 99 draft was actually quite successful Tucker, Booker, Holdman, Colvin and Azumah had many good years in Chicago and originally McNown showed enough promise to have Bears fans talking. None of these draft picks are currently on the Bears team, though many still play on other teams.
2000 was a big year for the Bears free agent wise. The Bears went after two highly sought players.
You cannot argue with the signings, but neither turned out to be any more than average players for us.
The 2000 draft looked to be a great draft. Our first two picks looked to lead the Bears in the coming year.
Brian Urlacher,LB,New Mexico
Dez White,WR,Georgia Tech
Dustin Lyman,LB,Wake Forest
Reggie Austin,DB,Wake Forest
Frank Murphy,RB,Kansas State
Paul Edinger,K,Michigan State
James Cotton,LB,Ohio State
Michael Green,DB,Northwest Louisiana
Unfortunately for the Bears outside of Urlacher, the rest of the draft became known for being inconsistent. Health wise for Brown and playing wise fro White, Edinger and Green.
Players still on Bears active roster
The next installment in looking at Angelo's impact on this Bears team will be the in between year, where Angelo did not have complete control of player personnel.