When former Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery addressed the media for the final time, he evoked the lyrics of a small-label folk singer named Carrie Newcomer.
“We stand breathless on the clean edge of change," Emery said before parting Halas Hall once and for all.
Yet even Emery couldn't have predicted the extent of change initiated by he successor, first-time NFL GM Ryan Pace, through just three regular-season contests. Since taking control, Pace has made the following substantial personnel decisions:
-Allowed Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs and Stephen Paea to walk.
-Waived Roberto Garza.
-Waived Tim Jennings.
-Waived Jordan Mills.
-Traded Brandon Marshall.
-Traded Jared Allen.
-Traded Jon Bostic.
-Waived Khaseem Greene.
-Waived Brock Vereen.
-Attempted to trade Jay Cutler.
Think about that, in less than 10 months, Pace has taken a sledgehammer to every load-bearing wall Emery used to build the roster. And they were all correct moves.
Emery put forth the effort but he was far too worried about his public image, and what the media was saying about him and his team - remember his "research project" following Brian Urlacher's comments about Jay Cutler - to truly build a contender. And when he passed on Bruce Arians for Marc Trestman, that was the nail in his cold, lonely coffin.
Emery inherited a 10-6 football team and turned it into a 5-11 laughing stock weighed down by cap-crippling contracts. So Pace did the only thing he could do: wipe the slate clean.
A lot of folks are calling yesterday's trades of Bostic and Allen a fire sale. I call it a pure a rebuild, as neither player was in the club's long-term plans. Pace and head coach John Fox identified the albatrosses hanging around the team's neck and have done everything in their power to rid the team of its personnel encumbrances. It's the only plan of action that makes any sense for an aging roster devoid of long-term talent.
The Bears had to eat some money to make these changes - Allen, Marshall and Jennings alone cost the team more than $21 million in dead money - but this year is a wash, so eating cash in 2015 is a pennance this regime has to pay for the sins of its predecessor.
Yesterday's trades accomplished three things.
More Picks: The two sixth rounders acquired yesterday give the Bears nine draft picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Roster Space: Allen is no longer clogging up the depth chart, meaning guys like Lamarr Houston, Sam Acho and Willie Young - who was a healthy scratch against the Seahawks - can get more playing time. At linebacker, John Timu is likely to get called up from the practice squad to replace Bostic. Timu, an undrafted free agent out of Washington, flashed in the preseason and has upside.
More Cash: The Bears are projected to have roughly $57 million in cap space at the start of 2016 free agency - second most in the NFL.
So the Bears are now in a situatioin where they've dumped the horrible contracts - well, all but one - and now have nine draft picks, one of which might be the No. 1 overall selection, and a ton of money to spend on the open market. That's a pretty solid starting point for a full-blown rebuild.
Sometimes you have to go backward before you can move forward. This season is going to be difficult to watch but, as strange as it may sound, a 2-14 season is the best way for the Bears to turn the club around in the shortest time possible.