Ryan Pace’s stellar season was rewarded with some hardware:
Today we presented @ChicagoBears general manager Ryan Pace with the 2018 Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year award, as voted upon by his fellow NFL team executives.
— Sporting News NFL (@sn_nfl) March 24, 2019
The Chicago Bears GM was named the Sporting News’ NFL Executive of the Year. And unlike the top-exec title that was handed out to Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard by the Pro Football Writers of America, Pace’s award comes by way of vote from his peers.
As the saying goes, “game recognize game.”
It’s a major award for Pace and validation of a job well done in transforming the Bears from a league bottom-feeder to a Super Bowl contender with a series of transactions in 2018 that started with the firing of John Fox and hiring of Head Coach Matt Nagy. From there, Pace retained free-agent cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara and added impact free agents such as Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton to rebuild what was a woeful group of pass-catchers. Pace also orchestrated a wildly successful draft class loaded with starters like Roquan Smith and James Daniels, as well as contributors such as Anthony Miller and Bilal Nichols. And then there was the impact trade for Khalil Mack, which really pushed things to another level.
While Pace received the award for his moves in a 2018 season in which the Bears won 12 games and an NFC North title, it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for success stories in prior years. Draft picks such as Mitch Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, Cody Whitehair, and Adrian Amos continued to show significant growth. Veteran free agent signings such as Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, and Bobby Massie all played major roles in 2018 being a special season for the Bears.
Things haven’t always been rosy for Pace. In April 2018, he ranked absolutely dead last in NFL GM rankings and NFL agents considered the Bears among the worst-prepared teams in contract negotiations. A month later, he checked in among the NFL’s worst GMs (despite having a highly acclaimed offseason to that point). It wasn’t pretty and things looked bleak in the eyes of some in that specific moment. But as you can see, things can change quickly if your team’s GM hits on a bunch of important decisions in a timely manner.
Pace certainly earned the gold star given by the Sporting News, but there are still bigger and shinier trophies to strive for in 2019.