Being the next football czar at Halas Hall has its charms. In the coming days, whoever elects to be the next architect of the Bears not only gets to build around Justin Fields (eliminating the most challenging part of an executive’s job — finding a quarterback), but they get to be the one to take a swing at making the Bears, of all teams, a bona fide force again.
And whether (justified) cynicism has worn us all down or not when it comes to the Bears and the abyss they seem to always plunge themselves into, those marks matter.
But how much do they matter when another legacy franchise like the Giants has a cache of high draft picks for their next GM (partly thanks to the Bears and Fields)?
That’s the subject of today’s general manager roundtable, where the WCG staff determines how the Bears’ GM opening stacks up to the other NFL teams starting from scratch.
In case you missed it: Part 1 on the main quality the next Bears GM should have.
Where would you rank the Bears’ GM job amongst the other openings?
Robert Zeglinski: Justin Fields. Khalil Mack. Robert Quinn. Roquan Smith. Jaylon Johnson. With this core, among other names, the Bears have the potential for a comfortable playoff berth as early as next season. With the right executive at the helm, they can take this core and accent it soon enough to make that playoff berth reality a familiar one.
And if you do that? The city of Chicago and the greater pro football world will lavish you with a pristine jewel of a crown that you’ll never have to return. It’s that simple.
Yeah, you probably have to hear George McCaskey divulge his rather obvious mother issues out in the open, but it’s the best job. Case closed.
How fast did a true professional like Rick Smith, as an example, express mutual interest in the Bears once he saw he could build around Fields? I have to imagine it didn’t take too much thought.
Josh Sunderbruch: Gah ... low. The Bears start 2022 with question marks at quarterback and left tackle, who still need to be given a chance. They have no Pro Bowlers under 30 under contract, just an almost-Pro Bowler the fans are attached to who will need to be paid. Despite that, they only have the 20th most cap per open roster spot in the league and are already missing two draft picks this year, and that includes having performed so badly they should have a top-10 pick but don’t. The GMs patient enough to fix this mess might be patient enough to wait until a better spot is open next year.
Erik Duerrwaechter: This job has to be at the top, like the head coaching vacancy. It’s desirable, more so because the hard work of finding a credible quarterback has already been done. The new GM will now have the privilege and convenience to build around Justin Fields.
Now, the trick will be to make the roster competitive without having all the resources comparable to other teams like the Giants and Vikings. But both of those GM positions outside of Chicago will be facing pretty serious issues (Kirk Cousins, for one) in their respective spots.
I almost expect the Giants to promote from within for their next GM following Dave Gettleman’s “retirement.” So it’ll likely be the Bears and Vikings competing for external candidates. And it seems both franchises will have separate lists for candidates that fit their situations.
Sam Householder: They have to be ahead of New York, where you have no answers at quarterback. They’re probably ahead of Minnesota because other than Minnesota being ripe for a clean slate start, you’re saddled with an albatross of a quarterback contract who isn’t getting better or younger.
Ken Mitchell: The Bears are at the top of the list because whatever else you say about the McCaskey family unless you are a nut (Phil Emery), you have excellent job security no matter how bad you suck at your job.*
*(see Phillips, Ted)
Aaron Leming: Again, not to be a homer, but the Bears’ job has to rank at the top. Their cap situation will steadily improve, they have some building blocks, and most importantly, they have Justin Fields. That’s going to be a big draw on its own. I also believe that having complete control of football operations will keep their options wide open. Now I’m hoping they allow their general manager pick to hire the head coach.
Bill Zimmerman: Unless other prime opportunities open, it’s the best job. As much as Ryan Pace traded up, there aren’t that many missing future picks besides the obvious one of the first-rounder this season. You have a quarterback with elite traits. Even if people want to bag on Fields for his poor rookie numbers, you can’t deny what we’ve watched with the elite arm talent and elite athleticism. Ownership is poor, but the one good thing about George is that he stays out of the way for the most part. And if you are having success, I would expect him to be even more hands-off. Finally, if you put together a winner in Chicago, you’ll never pay for a meal in the city ever again — you’ll get the keys to the city.
Jack R. Salo: Very low. Everything points to a massive re-organization in Lake Forest, with a new GM told who his quarterback is, possibly told who his coach is, and sitting without a first-round pick this off-season. Although currently old and expensive, the only draw is that the roster can be blown up in a surprisingly straightforward fashion. It’s almost as if it was planned.