This will be the fifth offseason for GM Ryan Pace and his running of the Chicago Bears. It will also mark the fifth consecutive year that the team will go into an NFL draft without compensatory draft picks. For those who aren’t familiar, these are draft picks awarded to teams who suffered significant roster losses during free agency and failed to replace them with other players of equal contract value.
An easier way to put it is if your team loses several key players and doesn’t spend money in free agency? They’ll likely get a set of compensatory picks. The maximum being four. One would think Pace would’ve embraced the idea of this process. He’s a former scout after all and has declared on more than one occasion he’d prefer bulding through the draft.
More picks would be a good thing, right? One would think. Yet here things stand. The Bears have none again and it already looks like it will be more of the same in 2020 despite losing Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan to free agency. It’s hard not to feel like Pace might not be taking this process seriously.
The thing is, he probably isn’t.
Ryan Pace is running the Chicago Bears as he learned in New Orleans
It’s always important to remember where a man came from when assessing his mode of operation. Pace was a scout and then executive for the New Orleans Saints from 2002 to 2014. During that time he was under the guidance of longtime GM Mickey Loomis, considered one of the best in the business today.
He joined the Saints in 2000 and became their general manager in 2002. From that point to today, the organization has had a total of four compensatory picks. Four. In 17 years. For comparison sakes, Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens has had 43. It’s clear by that ocean-size separation that Loomis never took much stock in comp picks.
Free agency was a place he felt offered chances to make his team better and was often rewarded for that. Michael Lewis, Joe Horn, Darren Sharper, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore, Jonathan Goodwin, and Drew Brees are some of his many highlights.
Pace is a former pro scout who sees value in free agency
There is also the fact that Pace himself is a former pro scout and pro personnel executive. This means it was always his job to scour the NFL market for possible free agents that could help the team improve. So he literally grew up in football believing that a strong presence on the veteran market is beneficial to team success.
He’s not wrong. Much of the Bears’ success in 2018 was attributed to key free agent additions. Among them being Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, Bobby Massie, Allen Robinson, and Prince Amukamara. There’s no way the Bears go from the dumpster fire they were back in 2015 to a contender today without accelerating the process with those acquisitions.
Compensatory picks might make the draft more fun, but the majority of them end up being misses. At least in free agency, there’s a greater degree of positive return, even if it’s over a shorter period of time.