The Chicago Bears announced the hiring of Ryan Pace on Thursday as general manager, marking the club's second move at the position in three years.
Pace replaces Phil Emery, who was fired Dec. 29 after just three seasons at the helm.
Pace, 37, joins the Bears after working 14 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, spending the past 13 years as a member of the player personnel department. Pace worked two seasons for the Saints as director of player of personnel, leading the club in all facets of scouting and the evaluation of college and pro prospects.
He received glowing reviews from Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton, who have long raved about Chicago's new GM. Pace served as the club's pro scouting director from 2007 to 2012, before receiving the promotion to director of player personnel.
Loomis called Pace an "outstanding member" of the Saints organization in a news release issued Thursday.
"He has been a key contributor in developing our roster throughout the past years," Loomis said of Pace. "We will miss Ryan and his wife Stephanie; however, we are excited that that they will be with an organization like the Chicago Bears, of which we have the highest regard."
Pace joined the Saints in 2002, two years removed from a college career as a defensive end at Eastern Illinois. Pace started his career with the Saints as an assistant working in areas such as game-day and training-camp operations, before working his way through the ranks of the scouting department.
"He's a talented guy we have a lot of confidence in," Loomis said on Jan. 6, via ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett. "We'd hate to lose him, and yet he's ready for a general manager's job. I would expect to lose him at some point. It's a good thing, no different than the coaches in the past we've lost to other teams who had opportunities. It's a good thing when your people are being asked to interview for jobs and promotions."
Payton, apparently, saw the latest move coming. Asked last week whether he was curious why teams would try to lure Pace away from the Saints, the coach said, "Curious would not be the word."
"He's really good at what he does," Payton added. "He's a big part of what we do. He's very talented, and I know he's been promoted here, deservedly so, a few times."
Pace's duties as New Orleans' director of pro scouting included him recommending the club's acquisitions through evaluations of the Saints' roster as well as potential free agents, while monitoring the league's transactions, and researching potential trade opportunities as well as advance scouting.
Throughout Pace's 13 seasons in the Saints' personnel department, the club posted a record of 115-93. The team advanced to the playoffs on five occasions since 2006, winning three division crowns in addition to playing in two NFC Championship Games (2006 and 2009) and winning the franchise's only Super Bowl title.
The Saints selected Pace in 2008 to attend the NFL's Stanford Business School Executive Education Program for Managers, and it's worth noting he worked with the franchise in 2005 as it dealt with the tragedy and logistical challenges presented by Hurricane Katrina.