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Report: Chris Ballard, Eric DeCosta on Bears' list of five GM candidates

The Bears have requested permission to talk to five candidates for their vacant general manager position, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter — Baltimore Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta, Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard; Tennessee Titans vice-president of player personnel Lake Dawson; Houston Texans’ director of pro scouting Brian Gaine; and New Orleans Saints director of player personnel Ryan Pace.

It is not known whether the Bears have received permission to talk to the candidates. But with both the GM and head coaching positions to fill, they are moving swiftly since firing general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman on Monday.

DeCosta, considered one of the hottest GM prospects in the NFL, is considered a long shot because he is the heir apparent to current Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. The Jets also have requested permission to talk to DeCosta.

Ballard has the most direct ties to Halas Hall. He worked in the Bears’ scouting department under Jerry Angelo from 2001-11 and was the team’s director of pro scouting under Emery in 2012. During his tenure in the scouting department, the Bears drafted Pro Bowlers Matt Forte, Johnny Knox, Charles Tillman, Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher and Henry Melton. As director of pro personnel he was involved with the acquisitions of Brandon Marshall, Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett.

Dawson has been with the Titans for eight seasons. He was promoted to vice-president of football operations under general manager Ruston Webster in 2011. He was interviewed for GM openings in Miami and Tampa Bay last year and previously the St. Louis Rams.

Gaine is most noted for working under Bill Parcells. He was an assistant to general manager Jeff Ireland and interviewed for the GM spot when Ireland was fired earlier this year. The job went to Dennis Hickey and Gaine was surprisingly fired days later. He was quickly hired by the Texans as their director of pro scouting.

Pace has been with the Saints for 13 years, including six years as the team’s director of pro scouting before being promoted to director of player personnel in 2013. The Dolphins requested permission to interview Pace for their vacant GM job after firing Ireland during last year’s playoffs, but the Saints denied it, saying they were busy with the playoffs.

But current Saints general manager Mickey Loomis knows he won’t be able to keep Pace around forever.

“I kind of feel like he’s been our secret for a while,” he told of New Orleans. “But look, he’s a great, young personnel director. He’s got a great eye for talent and guys that fit with what we are doing and what we want to do. He’s very talented. He’s a guy that we’re going to lose at some point.”