The Bears 2017 season was clearly a major disappointment. After three straight seasons with a losing record, the Bears finished last in the NFC North at 5-11. Entering the 2018 offseason, major shake-ups in staff and personnel was essential to help boost a young Mitchell Trubisky’s confidence and development.

Ryan Pace started off with a bang in identifying his top coaching target and locking him up once his intuition proved correct – hiring Head Coach, Matt Nagy.

Source: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images North America

After a half decade of poor coaching and leadership, Pace hired the charismatic and energetic Matt Nagy. Nagy’s impact was noticed immediately on the field. The Bears drastically improved their offense from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, the Bears ranked 30th in offensive yards (4,599) and 29th in scoring offense (264). One year later, the Bears would finish 21st in offensive yards (5,502) and 9th in scoring offense (421). Not only did Nagy impact the Bears’ on field product, but he created a fun, energetic, and winning locker room culture.

 

 Keeping Their Own

A few key contracts expired before the Bears began their 2018 campaign. Here’s a look at a few of the key extensions and tenders of returning 2017 Bears.

Bryce Callahan: Resigned for $1.32M on 1-year deal.

Callahan turned in a quite impressive 2018 season.  Unfortunately, it was cut short due to a fractured left foot.

Kyle Fuller: Resigned for $56M ($18M guaranteed) on 4-year deal.

nbcsports.com

Pace was able to resign Kyle Fuller by matching an offer sheet by the Packers. This contract set Fuller to be the 18th highest paid cornerback at the time. Quite a steal on the 2018 Defensive First-Team All-Pro.

Prince Amukamara: Resigned for $27M ($18M guaranteed) on 3-year deal.

Resigning Amukamara signified Pace’s trust in returning his past secondary. Prince proved to be a consistent, more-than-capable CB2.

            

Acquiring Talent

The most lucrative signing of the 2018 offseason was Pro Bowl WR, Allen Robinson. Although returning from a torn ACL, Robinson signed a 3-year deal worth $42M ($18M guaranteed.) Trubisky was finally gifted a true WR1.

nbcsports.com

Ryan Pace signed Aaron Lynch to a 1-year deal for $4M. Lynch was assumed to start across from Leonard Floyd as an edge rusher before Khalil Mack was acquired. However, Lynch was productive as a rotational edge piece, accumulating 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and an INT.

If there’s one offensive attribute that impresses Coach Nagy, it’s speed. Ryan Pace absolutely brought some speed to the offense signing wideout, Taylor Gabriel to a 4-year deal worth $26M ($14M guaranteed.)

The newly acquired offensive explosion would not stop with Robinson and Gabriel. Versatile tight end, Trey Burton would sign a 4-year, $32M deal ($22M guaranteed.) Burton brought more flexibility to the offense but left a sour taste with Bears fans after failing to appear in the Eagles’ Wild Card Game. –

Backup quarterback issues have haunted the Bears in recent years. Knowing the history and lack of backup help, Pace signed Chase Daniel to a 2-year deal worth $10M ($7M guaranteed.) Daniel worked with Coach Nagy while in Kansas City, providing solid offensive insight and mentorship for Trubisky. Filling in for two games, Chase managed to go 1-1 and provide solid starts while Trubisky healed a shoulder injury.

 

Building a Foundation

Ryan Pace and the Bears entered the 2018 Draft with decent capital, but many holes. Here’s how they fared once all was said and done.

1st Round – LB Roquan Smith (8th overall)

Roquan filled a hole many fans did not see coming. At linebacker Smith compiled 121 combined tackles, 5 sacks, and 1 interception. A future star on the rise, Smith should continue to develop and improve in the Bears’ nasty 3-4 defense.

2nd Round – OL James Daniels (39th overall)

Some touted James Daniels as the best interior lineman in the 2018 Draft. The Iowa Hawkeye product turned in a solid 2018 campaign. Earning the left guard position, Daniels held his own against many dominant interior linemen.

2nd Round – WR Anthony Miller (51st overall)

The Bears gifted Trubisky with yet another fun offensive toy on day two. Trading the 105th pick in the 2018 Draft along with a 2019 2nd for the 51st overall pick, the Bears selected Memphis wideout, Anthony Miller. Miller led the team in touchdowns (7), an impressive stat in a loaded receiving corps.

4th Round – LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe (115th overall)

Iggy failed to log many snaps as a rookie. With Danny Trevathan coming up on his last year of his contract, expect more downs from Joel in 2019.

5th Round – DL Bilal Nichols (145th overall)

The Bilal Nichols selection appeared to be a product of Matt Nagy, as he stuck to his Delaware roots. Bilal started in 6 of 14 games played. Nichols ultimately finished the season with 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovered. There’s not much else you could ask out of a 5th round pick from the University of Delaware.

6th Round – OLB Kylie Fitts (181st overall)

Kylie Fitts struggled to break the edge rusher rotation as a rookie. Granted, that’s not an easy task behind Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, and Khalil Mack. However, he provides a big frame and depth at a pivotal position.

7th Round – WR Javon Wims (224th overall)

Wims has the talent to be a solid wideout in the league. However, there may not be a receiving corps as deep as the Bears. He’ll look to compete for the WR6 spot in 2019.

 

The Cherry on Top

After the major free agency signings and NFL Draft, Bears fans had hope for 2018. Many NFL fans believed Chicago could be a leading contender in the NFC North. Surprisingly, Ryan Pace was far from satisfied.

Every Bear fan woke up on September 1st, 2018 excited for the last weekend of the NFL offseason. Whether checking Twitter, turning on ESPN, or receiving an outrageous amount of texts from friends, everyone remembers where they were when notified Ryan Pace and the Bears traded for Khalil Mack. Pace shipped the Raiders two 1st Round Picks, a 2020 3rd round pick, and a 2020 6th round pick in exchange for a 2020 2nd round pick, a conditional 2020 5th round pick, and the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year. Khalil Mack would go on to sign a record-setting 6-year deal worth $141M.  Mack flipped the script in Chicago and propelled the defense becoming a top unit in 2018. The rest is history.

Orchestrating one of the greatest off seasons in Bears’ history, Ryan Pace hired a rock star head coach, re-signed a future defensive All-Pro, drafted four rookie starters, and traded for a first ballot Hall of Famer. Heading into 2019, the Bears are ready for one of the most anticipated seasons in team history. Coaching is stable, the roster is talented, and the fans are hungry. The future is incredibly bright in Chicago, and the team wouldn’t be where they are today without the efforts of General Manager, Ryan Pace.