With former Bears GM Jerry Angelo in the running for the Jets' GM job, our colleagues at ESPN Chicago put together this compilation of his greatest hits and biggest flops during his 11-year stint in the Windy City.
1. Trading for Jay Cutler. Angelo finally landed a potential franchise quarterback, sending two first-round picks and QB Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos for a fifth-round pick and the 25-year-old Cutler in April of 2009. Cutler has been inconsistent during his four years in Chicago but is still the best quarterback the franchise has had since Sid Luckman in the 1940s.
2. Drafting Lance Briggs. Angelo struck gold in consecutive rounds of the 2003 NFL draft, selecting cornerback Charles Tillman out of Louisiana-Lafayette in the second round, 35th overall, and then picking linebacker Lance Briggs in the third round with the 68th pick. Mainstays on the Bears’ defense for the past 10 seasons, Tillman and Briggs thrived in Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 scheme.
3. Drafting Matt Forte. Three years after missing at running back by selecting Cedric Benson with the fourth overall pick, Angelo opted for Forte in the second round of the 2008 draft. A starter from Day 1, Forte has proven to be a versatile weapon with at least 929 yards rushing in each of his five seasons.
4. Hiring Lovie Smith. Angelo opted for one of the NFL’s top defensive coordinators when he hired his first Bears coach in 2004. Smith won 81 regular season games, three playoff games, three division championships, reached a Super Bowl and ended his Bears’ tenure as the third-winningest coach in franchise history behind George Halas and Mike Ditka.
5. Signing Julius Peppers. Angelo landed the biggest fish of the free-agent market in 2010, signing Peppers to a six-year deal with $42 million guaranteed.
1. Drafting Chris Williams. Williams symbolized Angelo’s failure to put together a competent offensive line during his time in Chicago. The Bears invested a first-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft on Williams, who struggled at tackle and then guard before the Bears cut him prior to the 2012 season.
2. Drafting Michael Haynes. Drafted 14th overall in 2003, the Penn State product started just four games in three seasons. Angelo passed on defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Robert Mathis to select Haynes, who registered 5.5 sacks with the Bears.
3. Drafting Dan Bazuin. Angelo wasted a second-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft on Bazuin. Already a reach that high in the draft, Bazuin never played a down in the NFL because of injuries.
4. Having no backup quarterback in 2011. The Bears gambled that Cutler would stay healthy all season, electing to go with Caleb Hanie as his backup. But Angelo’s gamble was exposed when Cutler was lost for the season with a broken thumb and the Bears at 7-3. They lost five of their next six and missed the playoffs in Angelo’s final season.
5. Failing to acquire a No. 1 receiver. The Bears cycled through many receivers during Angelo’s tenure, never finding the No. 1 receiver that Angelo’s successor, Phil Emery, found in his first few months on the job when he traded for Brandon Marshall. He drafted nine receivers during his tenure, with Earl Bennett topping the list as the most productive.