Bears extend contract of GM Ryan Pace through 2021 despite 14-34 record

As the Bears try to recover from a decade of poor drafting by building a new foundation that'll allow them to finally compete again in the crowded NFC North, they've decided to pace themselves on their march toward relevancy. Despite posting a 14-34 record in his three seasons as the Bears' general manager and despite firing his first coaching hire, John Fox, earlier on Monday, Bears GM Ryan Pace landed a contract extension that'll keep him in Chicago through 2021.

Pace will get his chance to see his plan through.

"He's earned the opportunity to see his plan to fruition," Bears team president Ted Phillips told reporters a day after the Bears wrapped up a 5-11 season.

Pace isn't losing any power either. He confirmed that he will be allowed to make the final decision on the Bears' next coaching hire. 

On Sunday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Bears will prioritize "finding someone with a pedigree of cultivating young passers," which makes sense considering the Bears traded up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in last year's draft.

In Trubisky's 12-game rookie season, he completed 59.4 percent of his passes, averaged 6.6 yards per attempt, threw seven touchdowns and seven picks, and posted a 77.5 passer rating. He added 248 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's an underwhelming stat line, but it's important to remember Trubisky spend his first-ever NFL season throwing to arguably the worst receiving corps in football. Plus, as we've seen with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, it's probably unwise to judge a quarterback after his rookie season.

Trubisky improved as the Bears' season dragged on, showcasing the traits -- a strong arm, accuracy in terms of his ball placement, and mobility -- that made him the first quarterback off the draft board last year while also reminding everyone that he's still a young quarterback with limited experience.

Here's how Trubisky's rookie year stacks up to Wentz's:


Comp. %YPATD%INT%Rating

Trubisky

50.4

6.6

2.1

2.1

77.5

Wentz

62.4

6.2

2.6

2.3

79.3

Pace's future will be tied to Trubisky. If Trubisky flops, Pace likely will too. But if Trubisky ends up becoming the franchise savior the Bears have been searching for since, well, forever, Pace will likely enjoy a lengthy stay in Chicago.

Looking beyond just Trubisky, Pace deserves credit for building a strong defense by drafting players like pass-rusher Leonard Floyd, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, and safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos, and by signing free agents like defensive end Akiem Hicks, and linebackers Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, and Pernell McPhee. He's built a strong offensive line and a top running game with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen

But Pace also deserves blame for his fair share of misses. He used his 2015 first-round pick on receiver Kevin White, who's appeared in five total games due to injuries. He gave Mike Glennon way too much money. He failed to supply Trubisky with competent receivers, letting Alshon Jeffery walk in free agency and giving Markus Wheaton, who caught three passes in 2017, $6 million in guarantees. To put it simply, the Bears just haven't won enough games under Pace.

Even still, this extension does make sense. Pace inherited an ugly situation. He's done well to turn around a horrific defense. He drafted his quarterback. Now, he deserves the chance to build an offense around Trubisky and hire a coach who can develop Trubisky. By extending him until 2021, Pace's contract will likely coincide with the next head coach's contract. That makes sense.

Pace can't afford to strike out on his second coaching hire, however. At some point, the Bears' patience will expire.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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