Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace Evolution: Linebacker

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Danny Trevathan
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Danny Trevathan /

How has the linebacker position progressed since Ryan Pace has taken over as GM of the Chicago Bears?

Ryan Pace has been the Chicago Bears General Manager for the past four seasons. Therefore, he has put his hands on every key roster decision that needs to be made. With that said, how he evolved the roster over the past four offseasons?

We have previously looked at his evolution of quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight end, tackle, guard, center, defensive line and edge rusher. Today, we look at the linebacker position.


Christian Jones, Jonathan Anderson, Shea McClellin, John Timu

Jones and McClellin were inherited by Pace. Jones was a bit of a tweener and still is a player who can play both spots. The Chicago Bears tried to turn McClellin into that type of player and failed.

Timu and Anderson were two UDFA’s, but excellent additions by Pace. To add a UDFA to the roster who stays around for even just one year is a decent find. To find two UDFA’s who are still on the roster to this day, not bad.


Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Christian Jones, Nick Kwiatkoski, John Timu

The first free agency period is the first time Pace made some serious noise. Trevathan and Freeman were apart of that. Everyone knows that the Vic Fangio defenses invest heavily in ILB play.

In Timu and Anderson, they found two established bottom of the roster players who can slide outside if needed and play special teams. Now it was time to take big punches for the starters.

On paper, this was a great idea. On top of that, Nick Kwiatkoski was drafted in round 4. Considering he has started a few games and was a starter before Roquan Smith fell into the team’s laps, he also should be looked at as a solid addition.


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Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Christian Jones, Nick Kwiatkoski, John Timu

The team rode with the same crew into 2017 as they made other upgrades to the roster. Unfortunately, 2017 was the undoing of Jerrell Freeman’s career. Kwiatkowski got hurt early in the season but did bounce back late.


Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Nick Kwiatkoski, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, John Timu

While the team was not committed to drafting a linebacker high, when Roquan Smith falls in your lap, you take him. He is going to start over Kwiatkoski and will be an immediate upgrade in the middle.

In the long-term, he will be calling plays and leading the defense a tone setter. Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the second linebacker the team drafted. At the very least, he provides special teams value.

However, he has the speed power and instincts to be a potential starter when thinking of life after Danny Trevathan. From Freeman and Jones to Smith and Iyiegnuniwe, the team got a lot younger and faster.