Ben Standig, Staff Writer for The Athletic, recently published an article where he surveyed 30 NFL agents to get their takes on several league-wide topics ranging from the societal issues the NFL faces today to the impact that COVID-19 has and will have on the sport. But there was also plenty of thoughts shared about the job being done by the thirty-two general managers and front office personnel in regards to the offseason and so much more.
The article is behind a pay wall (subscription recommended), so I can’t share everything they had to say, but I found what they had to say — or more specifically, what they didn’t have to say — about the Chicago Bears interesting.
Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace wasn’t mentioned by the 30 agents when they were asked, “Among general managers or front-office leaders, whom do you trust the most?”
The Indianapolis Colts’ Chris Ballard was the winner of this category with 6 votes, but there were 16 other teams that received votes and one vote that went to free agent GM Reggie McKenzie. The NFL Agents surveyed gave 18 different names of general managers they trust most, and nary a one went with Pace.
This one stings a bit as Ballard was a finalist for the Bears job before they hired Pace.
The agents were also asked, “Among general managers or front-office leaders, whom do you trust the least?”
This one is better news for the Bears as not one of the agents mentioned Pace or Chicago. Eleven different teams received a mention among the least trustworthy with the Patriots’ Bill Belichick receiving the most votes. “I would run my organization the same way. They hold everything close to the chest,” one agent said.
Pace has had several dealings with the Pats and Belichick during his time running the Bears, and it seems as through this is the organization he’s trying to mimic most with his hush-hush policies.
Some Bears’ fans are quick to claim that Pace acts like he’s the smartest guy in the room, but when the agents were asked, “Among general managers or front-office leaders, who is the smartest?” not one pegged Pace.
The Eagles’ Howie Roseman had the most votes in this category, with 14 other front office personnel members also getting votes.
Pace and the Bears weren’t mentioned by anyone on this question either, “Among general managers or front-office leaders, who is the toughest negotiator?”
“Toughest” is a subjective term, but it was the Patriots that had the most votes in this category, with 14 others getting mentions.
Indy’s Chris Ballard won the vote for this question too, “Among general managers or front-office leaders, who is the best talent evaluator?” with three other members of the Colts’ front office also receiving votes in this category. In total there were 16 personal men tabbed on this question, but none that work for the Bears.
But the Bears finally got a mention when this question was asked, “Who is a future GM to watch?”
Champ Kelly, who is the Bears’ assistant director of player personnel, came on board when Pace was hired in 2015. His first gig in Chicago was as Director of Pro Scouting in which he served for two years before being promoted.
Chicago’s front office did have one more mention in the article, and it came as an anonymous answer to this question; “From your agent perspective, what was the most interesting or surprising contract signed in free agency?”
Jimmy Graham signs for two years and $16 million with the Bears: “Did they watch his tape? That was a shocking contract to me. There’s no way anybody else would’ve offered him that kind of money.”
That was a head-scratcher to a lot of Bears’ fans as well. While I wasn’t too negative about the player acquisition (at 33-years old, Graham should have enough left in the tank to be an upgrade over what they had a year ago), I wasn’t happy with the money. And yes, I get that it’s most likely a one-year deal with most of the guaranteed money being handed out in 2020, but that was still too much to pay for Graham after racking up his fewest receptions since his rookie season of 2010.
The Buccaneers overwhelmingly received the most votes when asked, “Which franchise had the best offseason?”
The Bears wen’t very active, so I wasn’t surprised that they weren’t among the 9 teams that picked up votes in that category.
Trading for quarterback Nick Foles and signing pass rusher Robert Quinn were their only “big” moves, and they were apparently big enough to keep the Bears from being mentioned in this category; “Which franchise had the worst offseason?”
To no surprise the Texans won by a wide margin, but the Packers were among the 9 other teams that received votes. “They didn’t address their needs in the draft,” said one anonymous agent, and when asked; “What was the biggest nonsense you were told or the media reported during the offseason?” the Packers draft was brought up again.
“That Jordan Love was worthy of a first-round pick. The Colts didn’t want him, but the Packers thought they did and had to move up.”
The Colts were also the team rumored to be interested in trading for Nick Foles, so it’s a wonder how close any of the agents came to mentioning that one.
The entire piece is a good, fun read, so if you haven’t subscribed to The Athletic yet you should check it out.