By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
The Bears are in the market for a new coach, but their general manager is sticking around for the long haul.
Chicago has extended the contract of GM Ryan Pace through 2021, president and CEO Ted Phillips announced on Monday. Pace has been with the Bears since he and coach John Fox — who was fired on Monday — were hired in 2015.
“What I want to tell you is when Ryan was hired three years ago, he told us that a plan to build a team for sustainable success would not be easy,” Phillips said on Monday. “But his plan to build principally through the draft to lay that right foundation made sense to us. And it still does. So we’re still committed to that plan despite our disappointing win-loss record over the last three seasons.”
Pace, a 16-season front-office veteran, has overseen a slow rebuild working primarily through the draft, with Chicago’s most notable pick under his watch coming in the 2017 draft, when the Bearstraded up to No. 2 to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie passer had his ups and downs in his first season but serves as a source of optimism in 2018 and possibly beyond.
“I have to do a better job,” Pace said of his team’s 14-34 record since 2015. “But as I stand here today, and I look at where we’re heading, there’s sincere optimism. If you look back at this time last year, we had major questions. We had major questions at the most important position on our team: quarterback. We were aggressive in our approach to address that position, and we couldn’t be happier in the direction that it’s heading. It’s on us to continue to surround our young quarterback with the talent he needs to succeed.”
Pace’s drafts have unearthed a few gems, finding contributors in players like Eddie Goldman (second-round pick), Adrian Amos (sixth round), Adam Shaheen (second round) and key pieces in Jordan Howard (fifth round), Tarik Cohen (fourth round), Leonard Floyd (first round) and Trubisky. But he’s also missed on important picks, with receiver Kevin White (first round) topping that list.
An extension through 2021 signals strong belief in Pace’s plan — or a desire to convey an outward image of stability, even as Pace leads the search for the second head coach of his Chicago tenure. As we’ve seen countless times, a lot can change in a year, but it seems at least at this juncture that Chicago is prepared to remain patient as Pace continues to work on assembling a winner.