Chicago Bears free agency and beyond
A look back at free agency for Ryan Pace sees some head-scratching moments. Sure, we can say that Pace was dumb for signing Mike Glennon. We can laugh at the likes of Dion SIms and Marcus Cooper. However, Pace also brought in the likes of Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan during a time when free agents did not want to be in Chicago.
After the Chicago Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky and replaced John Fox with Matt Nagy, free agent signings became easier for Pace. The team brought in Allen Robinson and Prince Amukamara. Amukamara is underrated as a corner and Robinson is still one of the top-15 receivers in the game. The team started taking form and in 2018 was able to dominate on defense with the trade for Khalil Mack. Some might say the Mack trade was a no-brainer, but Pace still deserves credit.
This is the year Matt Nagy wins Coach of the Year and Pace wins Executive of the Year. All signs are pointing towards the team becoming dominant as they finish 12-4 in Nagy’s first year. In 2019, the team hit a bump in the road. Not many new faces took place between 2017 and 2018 outside of draft picks Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Anthony Miller and Bilal Nichols. All four made major impacts their rookie years but took steps back in 2019.
2019 was bad, but the team still finished 8-8 despite some regression by key players. The 2020 team looks even better than 2019 on paper, yet fans are still arguing for Pace to be fired. The additions of Robert Quinn, Nick Foles, Germain Ifedi and Jimmy Graham bring major upgrades to key positions. Then the team drafted Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson, both of who are expected to make an impact this year.
When we look at Pace’s tenure with the Chicago Bears we need to look at it in two cycles. The first two to three years were the rebuild years with a head coach forced upon him by management who have proven to know little about football. Then we have his current contract which is aligned with Nagy. Since that acquisition, the team has been a contender and not a pretender. Even at 8-8, the team was within reach of the playoffs until late in the season.
During this span, the team is 20-12 over two seasons. Let us see where that record goes after the 2020 season, but I expect the team to still be better than .500. I see the team pushing for the playoffs once again and even if they do not make it, Pace and Nagy will be back in 2021. We will take a look at what the scenarios look like for the 2021 season soon, but all but one include Pace and Nagy. Sorry to disappoint some of you out there.