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Bears hire Pace as general manager

The Bears on Thursday hired Ryan Pace as their general manager.

Pace has spent the last 14 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, including the past two years as director of player personnel. Prior to that, he served as an operations assistant (2001), scouting assistant (2002-03), pro scout (2004-06) and director of pro scouting (2007-12).

As director of player personnel, Pace helped manage all facets of the Saints' scouting and evaluation of college and pro prospects along with the team's roster.

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Ryan Pace

During Pace's 13 seasons in the Saints' personnel department, they compiled a 115-93 record. Since 2006, New Orleans has reached the playoffs five times, won three division titles, played in two NFC Championship games and won the franchise's first Super Bowl title.

The Saints' pro scouting department helped build a championship team by signing a slew of free agents including quarterback Drew Brees, fullback Heath Evans, linebacker Scott Fujita, cornerback Randall Gay, center Jonathan Goodwin, cornerback Jabari Greer and defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and trading for linebacker Jonathan Vilma and tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Pace also worked to help acquire running back Darren Sproles, guard Ben Grubbs, nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley, linebackers David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton, and safety Rafael Bush.

Over the past two seasons, the Saints have drafted four players who have become regular starters in left tackle Terron Armstead (2013 third round), receivers Kenny Stills (2013 fifth round) and Brandin Cooks (2014 first round) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (2013 first round).

"He is really good at what he does," Saints coach Sean Payton said about Pace last week. "He's a big part of what we do. He's very talented and I know he has been promoted here a few times, and deservedly so. I get fired up when he comes to see me first thing [in the] morning. His mind is already racing. I know he is all-in."

Pace replaces Phil Emery, who was relieved of his duties along with head coach Marc Trestman on Dec. 29, one day after the Bears concluded a disappointing 5-11 season.

Pace was one of four candidates to interview for the Bears' general manager position. The others were Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard, Texans director of pro personnel Brian Gaine and Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.

Speaking to the media Tuesday, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was asked about the possibility of Pace leaving New Orleans for another team.

"I'd hate to lose him and yet, he's ready for a general manager's job," Loomis said. "He's talented. I would expect to lose him at some point."

A 37-year-old from Flower Mound, Texas, Pace was a four-year letterman as a defensive end at Eastern Illinois, where he served as a team captain as a senior.

With Pace on board, the Bears will continue to search for a new head coach. Last week they interviewed Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

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