Ryan Pace had his best offseason yet as Bears general manager. Sure, we can't truly grade his efforts until the games start in September, but on paper, he's built what looks like a very competitive roster.
In fact, the Bears were recently ranked second among the teams most likely to end a long-standing playoff drought.
Pace has been the recipient of high grades in both the draft and free agency, and when all of his moves were added up by Bleacher Report, he scored an A+.
The Bears waded into the free-agent pool and pulled in a big fish with the top available wide receiver in Allen Robinson. The restructuring didn't stop there. Receivers Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller should be an awesome duo working over the middle of the field. Now, Kevin White's health is an afterthought.
Defensively, Kyle Fuller's retention may be as important if not more so than drafting Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick, and Smith is the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The decision to hire Matt Nagy was the biggest move of them all. Rarely do general managers get a chance to hire three head coaches. If they've gone through two, chances are they're looking for work. As a result, Pace's long-term job stability goes hand-in-hand with Nagy, who's charged with getting the most out of Chicago's newest players.
Bears fans have enjoyed a uniquely positive offseason in 2018. Now it's up to the players to bring that momentum to the field and convert high grades into a lot of wins.
The Bears are having an open competition at kicker, but it appears there won't be any drama at punter heading into training camp.
According to Adam Schefter, the Bears will be bringing back punter Pat O'Donnell on a two-year deal. Schefter reported the deal is worth $4 million.
O'Donnell made $1 million with a $500,000 signing bonus in 2018, so this represents a raise for him.
The 28-year-old has spent his whole career with the Bears since they drafted him in the sixth round in 2014. In 2018, he averaged 45 yards per punt and had 28 punts inside the 20, which matched a career-high.
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When the Oakland Raiders traded Khalil Mack to the Bears, the whole world seemed to crown Ryan Pace as the winner of the deal.
Six month later, an MIT analytics group is taking Jon Gruden’s side in the team.
The 2019 Sloan Sports analytics Conference wrapped up earlier this month, and they handed out their annual awards, including Best Transaction in all of sports.
One of the sixth-annual Alpha Awards went to the Oakland Raiders for trading Mack in exchange for two first-round picks, one second-round pick and one third-round pick.
The Raiders also sent the Bears a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2020.
Mack clearly had a drastic impact on his new defense, helping elevate Vic Fangio’s unit to the No. 1 group in the NFL.
But the analytics community at Sloan seems to support the idea of a team like Oakland tearing down for a full-scale rebuild, and trading Mack allowed them to acquire a wealth of draft assets.
The real value of those picks will be determined by how successful the Raiders are on draft day, but each additional selection is another lottery ticket for adding young talent, and the draft is universally viewed as the best method of team building.
Three-to-five years from now, we’ll have a much better idea of which team won the Mack trade.