There was once a thought that playing football in the year of a pandemic would make ownerships and front offices more patient, especially when considering the challenges teams had early (and throughout) the year.
And yet, here we are:
As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out, there are seven open general manager chairs throughout the NFL. And that’s before we get to Ryan Pace, whose future with the Bears is in jeopardy. Let’s be honest with ourselves, seeing Mike Borgonzi’s name floated as a potential replacement less than 24 hours after Chicago clinched a playoff spot is quite telling. Not saying that Pace should be updating his résumé as soon as possible, but he enters Super Wild-Card Weekend with arguably the most at stake.
Then again, he isn’t the only member of the Bears’ front office who we should be keeping eyes on. Because with seven general manager openings, it feels like Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel Champ Kelly should get some calls.
In May 2019, Kelly was someone to “keep an eye on” in the Jets GM search, but, although he eventually interviewed for the job, it ultimately went to former co-worker Joe Douglas. Two years later, Kelly should find himself garnering more interviews. Heck, today you couldn’t be anywhere on Twitter without seeing Broncos pundits suggesting that the team – which is now looking for a GM after a front office restructuring – check on Kelly, who used to be with the Broncos.
Some view Kelly as a star on the rise in NFL front office circles, and I imagine his inclusion at last June’s Quarterback Coaching Summit will do wonders for his stock as a future GM. Additionally, that the Falcons reportedly had Kelly on their short-list back in November is also worth jotting down.
For all the grousing folks might do about the Bears front office, they have had some significant wins on the player personnel side over the last few years. In fact, you might argue that, outside of one glaring, painful, critically important area, the Bears have done really well on the roster construction side.
If Kelly were to land a job during this GM search cycle, it would sting to lose the talent, but there would be a form of compensation coming back the Bears’ way.
Back in November, NFL team owners passed legislation that gave a green-light to reward teams that develop minority coaches and front office executives. I imagine this should give teams extra incentive to hire, promote, and push minority candidates throughout their organizations. Under the resolution, teams that lose a minority coach or executive to a head coach or GM job will receive a compensatory third-round pick for two consecutive years. In other words, the Bears would add compensatory picks for 2021 and 2022 if Kelly was hired away. That would certainly help offset the blow a little.
So with that in mind, we’ll keep an eye on Kelly and whichever teams could be interested in him.