Chicagobears.com | The Official Website of the Chicago Bears
Ryan Pace, the 2018 Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year, is in his sixth season as general manager of the Chicago Bears in 2020. He is the sixth general manager in franchise history after being hired on January 8, 2015. On January 1, 2018, the Bears announced a three-year contract extension for Pace, keeping him with the club through 2021.
Following the 2017 season, Pace took the organization in a different direction and sought to find the next head coach to lead the Bears into the future. On January 8, 2018, Pace hired Matt Nagy as Chicago's 16th head coach. And since his hiring, Chicago has compiled a record of 20-12, including a 9-3 mark against the division, and captured the 2018 NFC North championship. A total of 12 players have been selected to the Pro Bowl over the past two seasons, the most over a two-year span for the organization since the 2006-07 seasons.
With Nagy in place, Pace used all avenues available to start bolstering a young and promising roster. He made a splash on the first day of free agency in March 2018 with the signing of wide receiver Allen Robinson II and awarding players such as defensive back Kyle Fuller and defensive lineman Eddie Goldman with multi-year extensions in 2018.
Pace and his staff kept the momentum going during 2018 NFL Draft, selecting three ESPN.com All-Rookie Team honorees in linebacker Roquan Smith (Round 1, 8th overall), offensive lineman James Daniels (Round 2, 39th overall) and defensive lineman Bilal Nichols (Round 5, 145th overall). He also traded up in the second round to draft wide receiver Anthony Miller (Round 2, 51st overall), who finished second among all rookie wide receivers with seven touchdown receptions in 2018. Smith, meanwhile, would go on to record the second-most tackles (122) by a Bears rookie. Nichols made an immediate impact, recording 3.0 sacks, while Daniels started the final 10 games at left guard.
But Pace saved his boldest move for last. With the 2018 season opener looming – 8 days away to be exact – Pace acquired All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack in a trade with the Oakland Raiders, making him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, and a move that turned Chicago's already top-10 defense into the league's most dominant unit that season. Mack did not disappoint, leading the Bears with 12.5 sacks and six forced fumbles as Chicago's defense led the NFL in takeaways (36), interceptions (27), fewest first downs (17.3 pg), fewest rushing yards allowed (80.0 pg) and fewest points allowed (17.7 ppg) and finished third in turnover margin (+12), points off takeaways (107) and yards per game allowed (299.7).
The Bears finished 12-4 during the regular season, going on win streaks of three, four and five games, and captured the club's first NFC North title since 2010. Nagy would go on to earn Associated Press and PFWA Coach of the Year honors while setting a record for the most wins by a first-year head coach in franchise history.
Eight players, including Mack, were named to the 2019 Pro Bowl following the season. Joining Mack were defensive backs Eddie Jackson and Fuller, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, punt returner Tarik Cohen, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and offensive linemen Cody Whitehair and Charles Leno Jr. Mack, Fuller, Jackson and Cohen also were named Associated Press All-Pros.
In recognition for his efforts throughout the 2018 season, Pace became the third Bears executive to win Executive of the Year honors and the first since Michael McCaskey in 1985.
In 2019, Pace signed Whitehair and Jackson to multi-year extensions, making Jackson the NFL's highest paid safety, while 2019 free agent acquisition Cordarrelle Patterson joined Jackson, Fuller and Mack as 2020 Pro Bowl selections. Patterson also was named an Associated Press All-Pro for the fourth time after leading the league in kick returns. Meanwhile, rookie running back David Montgomery finished the season with 889 rushing and 185 receiving yards to become the ninth Bears rookie to top 1,000 yards from scrimmage in their rookie season and tied for the team lead with seven total touchdowns. His 889 yards and six touchdowns on the ground were both second in the NFL behind Oakland's Josh Jacobs (1,150 yds, 7 TDs) among rookie RBs.
Pace and his staff were active once again during the 2020 offseason, first with the re-signing of linebacker Danny Trevathan, before making several key free agent acquisitions with the signing of veteran tight end Jimmy Graham and linebacker Robert Quinn and trading a compensatory fourth-round pick to the Jaguars for veteran quarterback Nick Foles. Other notable additions included tight end Demetrius Harris, offensive linemen Germain Ifedi and Jason Spriggs, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., and defensive back Tashaun Gipson Sr.
With two second round picks in April's draft, Pace selected two players who should make an immediate impact in Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet and cornerback Jaylon Johnson out of Utah. Chicago did not pick again until Saturday's fifth round, where they selected three players in linebacker Trevis Gipson out of Tulsa, defensive back Kindle Vildor out of Georgia Southern and wide receiver Darnell Mooney out of Tulane. The Bears closed out the draft with two seventh-round selections, both offensive lineman, in Arlington Hambright (Colorado) and Lachavious Simmons (Tennessee State).
In 2017, Pace continued his track record of drafting rookies who make an immediate impact on the team. Trubisky (No. 2 overall) set Bears rookie records for passing yards (2,193) and completions (196). Cohen became the first NFL rookie since Gale Sayers (1965) to score touchdowns via rushing, receiving, passing and punt return in a single season. He also tallied the third most receptions (53) by a Bears rookie in club history. Jackson finished the season with two interceptions and became the first player in NFL history to return both a fumble recovery and an interception for 75+ yard touchdowns in a single game in a win over the Panthers.
After a stellar rookie season in 2016, running back Jordan Howard, a fifth-round pick by Pace in 2016, continued to have success on the ground, becoming the first player in franchise history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons (1,313 in 2016 & 1,122 in 2017) and also became the fastest player in Bears history to rush for 2,000 yards (24 games), besting Walter Payton's previous mark of 26. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, a key 2016 free agent acquisition, earned a four-year contract extension in September 2017.
In Pace's first two seasons as Bears GM, five Bears were selected to the PFWA's All-Rookie team (Adrian Amos, Leonard Floyd, Goldman, Whitehair and Howard), tied for the most in the NFL in that time.
In his first season overseeing Chicago's roster, Pace was tasked with turning over a roster that ranked as one of the oldest in the NFL (average 27 years, 39 days old). He trimmed that average to just over 25-years old in two seasons. The Bears fielded a competitive team, improving by one game over their previous year's record, despite the youth movement. The 2015 Bears were involved in 11 games decided by one score (5-6 record in those games) despite leading the NFL with nine rookie starters (three on offense, six on defense). The Bears defense improved from 30th in 2014 (377.1 yards per game) to 14th in 2015 (345.1 ypg) despite starting a league-most six rookie starters who combined for 41 starts, second most to the Saints 44 defensive rookie starts.
Pace joined the Bears after spending 14 seasons (2001-14) as a member of the Saints organization, including 13 in the player personnel department. He spent his final two seasons (2013-14) with the Saints as director of player personnel. In that role, Pace helped manage the team's college and pro scouting operations including all facets of scouting and evaluation of college and pro prospects along with New Orleans' roster.
Pace spent six seasons as the club's director of pro scouting (2007-12), which included overseeing the club's pro scouting staff. His duties involved recommending player acquisitions by evaluating the Saints roster and potential free agents, monitoring all transactions, researching possible trade opportunities, assessing player talent from other professional leagues and directing the advance scouting of future opponents. He also helped the Saints prepare for the draft following the regular season by assisting in the evaluation of top college prospects.
The Flower Mound, Texas native got his start in New Orleans' player personnel department as a scouting assistant in 2002, a role he held for two years before working as a pro scout from 2004-06. During that time he evaluated free agents and collegiate players entering the NFL Draft as well as scouted upcoming opponents. He joined the Saints in 2001 supporting the coordination of all game day, training camp and stadium operations.
Over Pace's 13 seasons in the New Orleans personnel department (2002-14), the Saints compiled a 115-93 (.553) record. Since 2006, the Saints reached the playoffs five times, won three division titles, played in two NFC Championship games (2006 and 2009) and won the franchise's first Super Bowl title (Super Bowl XLIV). The Saints pro scouting department helped build a Super Bowl championship club by using all avenues at their disposal: signing free agents QB Drew Brees, FB Heath Evans, LB Scott Fujita, CB Randall Gay, C Jonathan Goodwin, CB Jabari Greer, WR Lance Moore and DE Anthony Hargrove and trading for TE Jeremy Shockey, LB Jonathan Vilma, LB Scott Shanle and TE David Thomas. Pace has also worked to acquire players such as NT Brodrick Bunkley, G Ben Grubbs, LBs Curtis Lofton, RB Darren Sproles. Over his last two seasons with the Saints their draft classes included regular starters LT Terron Armstead (2013, third round), WR Brandin Cooks (2014, first round), S Kenny Vaccaro (2013, first round) and WR Kenny Stills (2013, fifth round).
In 2008, he was selected by the club to attend the NFL's Stanford Business School's Executive Education Program for Managers. He was a part of the franchise in 2005 while the club dealt with immense adversity having to guide itself through several moves in base operations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Pace played collegiately as a defensive end at Eastern Illinois (1995-99), serving as team captain as a senior, graduating with a bachelor's degree in marketing.
Pace and his wife, Stephanie, have a daughter, Cardyn.