Ryan Pace comes to the Chicago Bears with no experience as a general manager and no ties to the organization. What he does have is one big task on his hands.
His job: transform one of the NFL’s founding franchises back into a winner.
The Bears hired Pace as general manager Thursday to replace the fired Phil Emery, hoping he can rejuvenate a team that just missed the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.
At 37, Pace becomes the sixth GM in team history and the youngest in the league at the moment.
He spent 14 seasons with the New Orleans Saints’ front office and helped build a Super Bowl champion. He was New Orleans’ director of player personnel the past two years, helping manage their pro and college scouting operations, and he served as the team’s director of pro scouting from 2007-12.
Pace will join a team coming off a miserable 5-11 season.
After years of turning to high-profile names — Robert Griffin III, Mike Shanahan, Joe Gibbs and more — to rescue the franchise and turn it into a long-term winner, the Washington Redskins have gone in another direction.
The Redskins on Thursday evening confirmed the hiring of Scot McCloughan as general manager, an anticlimactic announcement after days of negotiations that had put a deal essentially in place by Wednesday afternoon.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are turning to veteran play-caller Dirk Koetter to revive their struggling offense.
The former Atlanta and Jacksonville offensive coordinator is joining the Bucs in the same capacity, the team announced Thursday.
Koetter, 55, was let go last month by the NFC South rival Falcons, who fired coach Mike Smith after a 6-10 season.
The Bucs stumbled to a 2-14 finish, playing the entire regular season without former offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who underwent a heart procedure in August and did not return to work any games.
Aaron Rodgers has returned to practice for the Green Bay Packers after sitting out with a left calf injury.
Rodgers was limited to the team practice periods on Thursday. Coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers’ mobility “looked good.”
Rodgers missed two days of light practice last week, along with practice on Wednesday, to focus on treatment for the lingering calf injury.
He has already said that he intends to play in Sunday’s playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.
First-year candidates Junior Seau, Kurt Warner and Orlando Pace are among 18 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The list of nominees was reduced Thursday to 15 from the modern era, one senior and two contributors. A finalist must receive at least 80 percent of the votes from the 46-person selection committee to be elected.
The class of 2015 will be announced Jan. 31 in Phoenix during “NFL Honors,” the TV show in which The Associated Press hands out its eight individual NFL awards. Inductions will be in August in Canton, Ohio.
The modern-day finalists are kicker Morten Andersen, running back Jerome Bettis, wide receiver Tim Brown, coach Don Coryell, running back Terrell Davis, coach Tony Dungy, linebacker-defensive end Kevin Greene, linebacker-defensive end Charles Haley, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, coach Jimmy Johnson, safety John Lynch, and guard Will Shields.
The senior nominee is former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff. Special contributors are Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, the architects of Super Bowl teams as executives.