Catch ’22: Bears casting wide nets for big fish

Nine days after firing general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy, the Bears have 14 reported candidates for the GM job and 10 or more candidates for the head-coaching job.

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Former Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf, a candidate for the Bears’ general manager job, lost out to Brian Gutekunst for the Packers GM job in 2018.

Former Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf, a candidate for the Bears’ general manager job, lost out to Brian Gutekunst for the Packers GM job in 2018.

Evan Siqgle/AP

When the Bears hired consultant Ernie Accorsi to head their search for a general manager to replace Phil Emery in 2015, they interviewed four candidates. With Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian heading the search to replace Ryan Pace, they already have interviewed eight candidates, with at least seven more on deck. 

That might be a byproduct of Zoom rather than the personal styles of Accorsi and Polian. But either way, the Bears’ searches for a GM and coach to replace Pace and Matt Nagy are notable for two things: the number of candidates and the number of candidates drawing interest from other teams. 

Nine days into the search, here are the GM candidates the Bears have interviewed with their search committee consisting of Polian, chairman George McCaskey, team president Ted Phillips, vice president of player engagement LaMar “Soup” Campbell and senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion Tanesha Wade: 

† Browns vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook.

† Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly.

† Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

† Saints assistant GM and former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland.

† Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort.

† Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen. 

† Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds.

† Patriots scouting consultant Eliot Wolf.

The Bears interviewed Wolf on Tuesday. Wolf, 39, is the son of former Packers GM Ron Wolf. He spent 14 years with the Packers, rising to director of football operations, but left the organization after losing out on the GM job to Brian Gutekunst in an upset in 2018. Wolf was the assistant GM with the Browns in 2018 and ’19 before joining the Patriots in 2020. He is expected to interview with the Vikings on Thursday.

The Bears are reported to have an interest in interviewing seven others: Colts college scouting director Morocco Brown, Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan, former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, 49ers director of player personnel Ran Carthon, Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz, Chargers director of player personnel JoJo Wooden and Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles.

They also have interviewed six candidates for coach, with four other candidates scheduled to interview. Those who they already have interviewed are: 

† Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson.

† Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores.

† Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.

† Former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell.

† Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

† Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. 

The Bears are expected to interview Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. 

They are planning to first hire a GM, who presumably will hire the coach. But their current list of coaching candidates is impressive on paper. It includes six former head coaches, including three who have taken teams to the Super Bowl (Pederson, Caldwell and Quinn). It also includes hot coordinators other teams are looking at (Daboll, Leftwich, Bowles, Hackett, Frazier and Eberflus). 

The Bears are reported to have scheduled interviews with Leftwich, Bowles and Quinn on Saturday.

Leftwich and Bowles have a playoff game against the Rams on Sunday. Quinn’s season ended with a loss to the 49ers in the wild-card round. 

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