(Photo by Jim Prisching/Getty
A previously nondescript eight years as Bears general manager quickly changed for Jerry Angelo after he made the monumental move to acquire Jay Cutler. Opinion of Angelo in Chicago shifted as fans embraced the man that just traded for a franchise quarterback entering his prime years.
Angelo’s harsh critics, myself previously included, repeatedly called him out for his conservative ways, continually trading down in the draft (even when moving up was the best idea), and passing over big free agents with the exception of Muhsin Muhammed.
Following a disappointing 2007 and uneven 2008, Angelo went against the grain in giving up multiple early round draft picks (including two in the first round) to acquire Cutler and give the Bears a strong foundation at the quarterback spot for years to come.
Even more than acquiring Cutler, being quoted as saying that once the Bears “decided to enter, we were in to it to win it,” regarding the Cutler sweepstakes shifted opinion of Angelo and likely ensured a positive legacy of his time in Chicago.
Before acquiring Cutler, Angelo’s tenure has been a mixed bag where the misses greatly overshadowed the hits. The failure of Muhammad and many of his early round draft picks (Marc Colombo, Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley, Dan Bazuin) not panning out fueled the large amount of complaints towards him.
However, Angelo also has a strong history of successfully drafting outside of the first round, with core players like Matt Forte, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher and Devin Hester reflecting his quality work as Bears GM.
Underrated free agent acquisitions of players like Thomas Jones, Ruben Brown, Roberto Garza and Desmond Clark, guys who played key parts in winning seasons for the Bears, also dot Angelo’s tenure.
Coming to the Bears after serving as part of the Tampa Bay front office that rebuilt the Buccaneers franchise, Angelo built a strong organization in his own right after a slow start (just 16 wins from 2002-2004).
With his previous reputation of poor early round drafting and failing to make a big move when needed, Angelo did not receive his proper due for building the team that won 24 games in 2005-2006 and played in Super Bowl XLI. That should no longer be a problem, showing how important just one move can be in shifting the opinion of a man.