Ryan Pace is a divisive figure among Chicago Bears fans. Many love what he’s been able to do rebuilding the team from the ashes of the 2014 debacle to a respectable and competitive roster. One featuring a top-of-the-line defense. Others can’t stand him due to his colossal misfire at quarterback in the 2017 draft and other notable missteps on offense before and since.

With just one winning season in the past five years, it’s not hard to understand why a lot of fans want him out. Some though believe he’s not nearly in as much danger as rumors indicate. Barring a massive meltdown by the Bears in 2020, he should get another year at the helm in 2021. If that is the case, then plans for that offseason may already be taking shape.

One thing that has become apparent about Pace over the years? When he likes a draft prospect, he’ll become fixated on him. Mitch Trubisky is the biggest example. Pace fell in love with the QB at the Sun Bowl in 2016 and pretty much never wavered until the draft months later.

According to a source, SM was told a new name has become the apple of Pace’s eye looking ahead to next year.

“Ryan is absolutely enamored with Ohio State CB Shaun Wade. He’s been watching film endlessly.”

Ryan Pace could have big plans if this is indeed true

Wade certainly looks the part. Ohio State has a long track record of producing standout cornerbacks in the NFL. Eli Apple, Denzel Ward, and Marshon Lattimore are just some of the most recent examples. Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette, both Buckeyes in college, were 1st round picks this year. The school is a corner factory.

Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network can understand the allure of Wade.

“There’s notable twitch to his game; his acceleration and long speed are undeniable when receivers look to stack him vertically and test him. Love his aggressiveness and the physical power he plays with, Wade is a tone-setting player who beats up would-be blockers outside the hashes and excels at stepping down as an enforcer vs. screen game and the run.

A reliable tackler, Wade has fascinating upside as a chess piece weapon/hybrid defender in the NFL game. His recognition skills as it relates to spacing multiple layers of routes make him a desirable prospect in coverage.”

Where it gets interesting for the Bears lay with the repercussions.

Why would Pace be so keen on a cornerback in the 1st round? He already has Kyle Fuller and it looks like the Bears definitely have something in rookie Jaylon Johnson. The simple answer here is money. It’s become common knowledge that the NFL salary cap could drop in 2021. As much as $23 million which would put the Bears in the red as things stand now.

This could force Pace to make some difficult sacrifices on the roster in order to clear out space. Two names that might fit that profile are Fuller and fellow cornerback Buster Skrine. Fuller will be 29-years old next season. Skrine will be 32. Cutting or trading them next offseason would net the Bears $13 million in cap space. Even as much as $19 million with a post-June 1st designation.

This is not to say it would happen this way. Still, if that were in the plans for Ryan Pace, then his rumored interest in Wade would make a ton of sense.

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