Comprised entirely of outside candidates previously, the Bears’ GM interview list now includes one of their own staffers. The Bears interviewed assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly for their GM job Thursday.
Brought in at the start of Ryan Pace‘s GM tenure, Kelly has been with the Bears since 2015. The veteran staffer began as the team’s pro scouting director and has served in his current role since 2017. The Bears promoting a Pace lieutenant would surprise, but Kelly has drawn extensive interest from outside the organization.
The Broncos and Panthers interviewed Kelly for their GM job last year, before respectively hiring George Paton and Scott Fitterer. In 2019, the Jets brought in Kelly for an interview ahead of their Joe Douglas hire. Kelly spent eight years in Denver prior to coming to Chicago. The Bears also completed their interview with Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on Thursday.
The Bears may also have a higher-profile candidate on the radar. Not yet on the team’s interview list, former Texans GM Rick Smith is expected to draw interest from the Bears, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Smith has not held an NFL role since stepping away from his longtime post as Texans GM after the 2017 season.
Although Smith has not landed on any interview lists during this cycle, he was popular on the 2021 circuit. The Jaguars and Lions met with the 12-year Texans GM, and Washington’s 2020 interview with Smith nearly led to a hire. Smith was in place as GM for the first four playoff berths in Texans history, having drafted the likes of J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins. Smith’s final draft involved the team’s trade-up for Deshaun Watson.
Here is how the Bears’ GM field looks as of Thursday afternoon:
- Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, vice president of football operations (Browns): Interviewed 1/13
- Morocco Brown, director of college scouting (Colts): Interview requested
- Ran Carthon, director of player personnel (49ers): Interview requested
- Glenn Cook, vice president of player personnel (Browns): Interviewed 1/12
- Ed Dodds, vice president of player personnel (Colts): Interview requested
- Jeff Ireland, assistant general manager (Saints): Interview requested
- Champ Kelly, assistant director of player personnel (Bears): Interviewed 1/13
- Omar Khan, vice president of football and business administration: Interview requested
- Joe Schoen, assistant general manager (Giants): Interview requested
- Rick Smith, former general manager (Texans): Mentioned as candidate
- Eliot Wolf, senior consultant (Patriots): Interview requested