Chicago Bears: 5 under the radar candidates to replace Ryan Pace

Chicago Bears (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Could the Chicago Bears turn to a division rival?

Perhaps the Bears look within their own division for Ryan Pace’s replacement. If they do, one obvious candidate would be George Paton (not the General), the Minnesota Vikings’ assistant general manager.

Paton has spent the last 13 seasons with the Vikings, serving as Rick Spielman’s right-hand man. Before we dive into the good, let’s take a look at the bad and address the one mistake that is tough to overlook — and that is the deal they gave to Kirk Cousins. While they believed they had a dominant defense, they felt they needed just an above-average quarterback to contend for a Super Bowl (sound familiar) and gave Cousins an exorbitant contract, which makes it virtually impossible to walk away from due to his dead cap numbers.

If you can get past that blunder, there is a lot of good that he and Spielman have accomplished. In fact, the Vikings were lauded as having one of the best drafts in 2020, selecting Justin Jefferson, Jeff Gladney, Ezra Cleveland, and Cam Dantzler.

The Vikings, until their fire sale this season, proved they could build a dominant defense, but the offense had been lacking. That alone may be enough to scare Bears fans away as too reminiscent of what they have now in Pace, but Paton will get a lot of consideration around the league for openings after the season.

Chicago Bears, Eliot Wolf
Chicago Bears (Jim Matthews/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports) /

Perhaps the Chicago Bears grab an old foe

Could the Chicago Bears pick an executive off the New England Patriots tree? That’s where our final candidate to replace Ryan Pace currently calls home. Although Eliot Wolf is another name that might sound familiar to Bears fans. That’s because before serving as the Patriots front office consultant and the Cleveland Browns assistant general manager, he served in a variety of roles with the Green Bay Packers from 2004-2017.

One year after Wolf arrived in Green Bay, the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers, who has been haunting Bears fans ever since. When the Packers moved on from Ted Thompson, Wolf was a candidate to replace him, but the job went to Brian Gutekunst. What would be sweeter for Wolf than to go lead their greatest rival to the promised land, and proving to his former team that they hired the wrong guy?

The Packers have always done well building their team with homegrown drafted players, rarely spending big in free agency. That philosophy changed with Gutekunst, but before him, Thompson believed in building through the draft. And during Wolf’s tenure in Green Bay, the Packers had some phenomenal draft classes.

If the Bears want to reverse the curse of the Packers, maybe they go with an old foe who knows all the state secrets on their biggest rival.