Chicago Bears: General Manager Search Narrowed to Two

Bob WarjaSenior Writer IJanuary 23, 2012

Phil Emery
Phil Emery

The Chicago Bears have apparently narrowed their GM search to two candidates, as Chiefs Director of College Scouting Phil Emery and Patriots Director of Pro Personnel Jason Licht have been asked back for second interviews.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted on Monday afternoon that the hiring of Emery was a done deal, but the Bears quickly denied the report.

"A decision has not been made," a team source said Monday afternoon.

Still, Emery does appear to have the upper hand, as Lovie Smith and Ted Phillips know him well from his previous role as an area scout for the Bears from 1998-2004.

Last week, the Bears interviewed Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross, Chargers Director of Player Personnel Jimmy Raye and current Bears Director of Player Personnel Tim Ruskell.

Personally, of that group, I would have preferred Ross, who joined the Giants in 2007 and ran his first draft the next year; the Giants selected Kenny Phillips, Terrell Thomas and Mario Manningham, among others.

Prior to that, he spent time with Philadelphia when, at age 27, Ross became the NFL's youngest college scouting director. He was responsible for drafting players such as Brian Westbrook, Lito Sheppard and Derrick Burgess.

But Phillips made it clear that the new GM must be able to accept Lovie's philosophy, so it would seem plausible that since the two know each other, Emery would be the front-runner.

As for Emery, he was part of the Bears when they selected Rex Grossman and Michael Haynes. However, he was also involved in the Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman drafts.

Whoever the new GM is will hopefully make one important change to the Bears' front office: I want to see a college and a pro director hired, instead of one man to oversee both like Ruskell currently does.

While I may prefer Ross, at least it won't be Ruskell. But the job simply isn't quite as attractive as it could be for two reasons:

First, the new GM has to keep Smith as coach, at least for this year, which ties his hands.

Two, he has to deal with the football-illiterate Phillips, who controls the purse strings. (Man, how I wish George McCaskey had the cojones to fire Phillips along with Jerry Angelo.)

The Bears had to get permission to bring Licht back since New England is still playing. Licht helped draft Patriots TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The knock against him is that he has never had a seat in the Patriots' draft room; Bill Belichick likes to keep most decisions to himself.

Meanwhile, the Bears say offensive coordinator Mike Tice will not interview for Oakland’s coaching job after the Raiders, "moved forward with the second phase of their interview process."