The job of an NFL general manager is never easy. And for Bears GM Ryan Pace, this year was going to be no different. Except now, it is.
Pace is among the front office executives who outline their respective concerns entering the 2020 NFL season in Albert Breer’s MMQB column at SI.com, and the concerns are valid. Because after an offseason that shut down training programs and minicamps, teams have to make roster decisions without the benefit of preseason games. Moreover, front offices will have to make calls on cutting players whose untapped potential may get realized elsewhere.
“Your concern, always, in every camp, is letting a good player walk out of here. It goes back to taking every piece of information you can to complete the evaluation and leaning on your staff—and not just your coaches and your scouts but your support staff to complete the picture. Because, yeah, you are nervous a good player is going to walk out of here. You always are, but to be honest, you probably feel it more this year because we’ll have less time with these guys, and we won’t have the preseason games.”
I thought Pace had a ton on his plate going into this year. But it’s clear that the trimmed training camp rosters will force tough calls decision-makers might not be prepared to make after a limited sample of work.
The Bears have a few spots where they can debate between keeping a young player with upside or a veteran with experience and know-how. For example …
• Does fifth-year cornerback Artie Burns make the cut, or will someone like Kevin Toliver II stick around?
• Will J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, or Darion Clark emerge as a reserve from the collection of tight ends?
• Can Alex Bars make it through a summer camp without his college position coach having his back?
• Is Riley Ridley or Javon Wims at risk of being cut?
So while Pace isn’t tipping his hand, it is clear he is speaking from a position of experience. To be clear, teams deciding between a veteran and a youngster isn’t new. However, making those decisions in this environment is new. Thus, balancing long-term interests and short-term goals is that much more difficult. And for the Bears, who have so much invested in this competitive window, making the right decision is paramount.
And you thought the Bears’ challenges would begin and end with the quarterback competition … HA!
But it’s clear that Pace acknowledges the challenges don’t begin and end with the quarterback competition.