New Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery said "pro free agency" was his top priority in leading the team toward championships.
New Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery on Monday said he was "very pumped up" to lead the "premier" franchise of the NFL.
The team hired Emery over the weekend as GM to replace ousted Jerry Angelo. Emery described his meetings with President and CEO Ted Phillips, a total of 15 hours worth, as an "amazing experience" and "extremely thorough."
Emery said planning to move the team forward will begin immediately, and said his first priority is pro free agency.
"As we move through free agency we will move to the combine and toward the college draft," said Emery. "We will focus on the draft after the free-agency plan.
But no matter if players come from the college draft or through free agency, Emery said the priority remains: "Our goal is to win championships."
Most recently the director of college scouting for the Kansas City Chiefs, Emery served with the Bears from 1998 to 2004 as a scout, leading to drafts of Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs. During that time, Chicago won the NFC Central in 2001.
Emery is a Michigan native with 31 years of football experience, including 14 seasons in the NFL. He will serve as the fifth general manager in Bears franchise history following Angelo, who was fired earlier this month by Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips.
Emery praised his predecessor, calling him a man for whom he has a great deal of respect, but said they come "from very different backgrounds."
He said he was excited to work with Coach Lovie Smith, who he said possessed
"leadership, poise [and] calmness under duress."
Emery was one of two GM finalists, the Bears said last week. The other was Jason Licht, the Patriots' director of player personnel.
"I know we found the right guy," said Phillips, characterizing Emery's character as "impeccable."