Jerry Angelo's legacy in Chicago will certainly revolve around the 2006 Super Bowl appearance, only the second in team history, and the trade for Jay Cutler. Yet after an 8-8 season, where injuries fueled a wicked second-half collapse, Bears chairman George McCaskey decided to move on. As of this morning, Angelo has been released from his duties.
The official statement from the Bears:
"Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips informed Jerry Angelo this morning he will not return as the team's general manager for the 2012 season."
Angelo was hired in 2001 and his first team immediately won the NFC North, erasing an 11-year drought. During his time in Chicago, the Bears have won four division titles, one NFC Championship and have amassed a 95-81 record, including a 3-4 postseason mark.
Compared to his predecessors, Angelo put the organization through one of its most-successful stretches in team history. Yet it hasn't always been rosy, particularly this season.
Angelo received criticism early in training camp for not re-signing longtime center Olin Kreutz. He then made some highly questionable free-agent acquisitions, including Roy Williams and Vernon Gholston. The team could not make significant upgrades to the offensive line, the biggest area of need, and instead started the season with five undrafted free agents on the roster.
Then there has been the ongoing saga of Matt Forte's contract, which every day looks worse for the organization, especially considering Forte's recent selection to the Pro Bowl. Then there were rumblings from Lance Briggs about re-structuring his contract, of which Angelo would not even discuss with his agent. And to top it all off, Sam Hurd gets arrested for trying to build a drug cartel in the Chicago area, raising questions about Angelo's vetting process for incoming free agents.
Two questions arise from this development. Who else will fall? And who will replace Angelo as GM?
As to the former, it's anyone's guess. If McCaskey is fed up with the current state of the Bears, then Lovie Smith could be next, as well as the rest of his coaching staff. To the latter, Tim Ruskell is currently the team's director of player personnel. He was brought in last season and could be a candidate for the position, one that he held with the Seattle Seahawks from 2005-2009. There is also Bill Polian, who was fired yesterday from his post as GM of the Indianapolis Colts.
It's all speculation at this point though. The Bears will hold a press conference this afternoon at 4 p.m. We'll know more then.
**UPDATE: The Bears Web site states that Lovie Smith will not be fired and will be the head coach of the team in 2012.
The statement: "Lovie Smith will remain as head coach and will continue to evaluate his coaching staff."
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.