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Bears exec Champ Kelly tied to Broncos GM job

The Broncos, and now the Panthers too, have reported interest in one of the Bears’ top front office executives.

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Chicago Bears v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After Denver Broncos general manager John Elway announced on Monday that he would be stepped down from his role and taking on a new task as the president of football operations. Multiple candidates have been named as a potential replacement for Elway, but arguably the hottest is the Bears’ Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Champ Kelly.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport mentioned on Monday that Kelly was a name to watch for the Broncos job not even an hour after Elway stepped down from his post. ESPN’s Adam Caplan also listed Kelly as a general manager candidate for Denver.

Kelly has served in the aforementioned role for the Bears in the past four seasons, prior to which he was the Director of Pro Scouting in Chicago for two seasons. In his current role, he oversees both the pro personnel and college scouting departments for the team, having considerable say in both free agent and draft decisions. This isn’t the first offseason which has seen Kelly get general manager consideration, as he interviewed for the Jets’ general manager vacancy in June of 2019.

The linking of Kelly to the general manager position makes sense, as he already has ties to the Broncos’ organization, having spent eight seasons within their organization from 2007 to 2014. He also worked with the team’s current coach, former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, for four seasons. Kelly most notably served as Denver’s Assistant Director of Pro Personnel, a role he took over in 2010 and held until joining John Fox in jumping to the Bears in 2015. Kelly also has experience working as a college scout.

While a loss of a key organization figure would be a big blow to the Bears, it would also come with its advantages. As a result of the NFL’s expansion of the Rooney Rule, any team who loses a minority assistant coach or a personnel executive to a head coaching or general manager gig, respectively, will receive compensatory third-round picks in the next two drafts. If Kelly were to be the hire for the Broncos, then the Bears would receive late third-round picks in both 2021 and 2022.

The additional Day 2 draft capital would be a huge boost for Chicago, but losing a key member of their front office like Kelly would not be ideal. The Broncos’ general manager hunt is one Bears fans should be invested in throughout the coming weeks.

EDIT: Rapoport is also reporting that the Carolina Panthers have requested to interview Kelly.