LAKE FOREST, IL - MAY 01: General manager Jerry Angelo of the Chicago Bears watches a rookie mini-camp practice on May 1, 2009 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jerry Angelo was ousted from the Bears general manager position after serving in that position since 2001. Though his legacy involves an NFC Championship and four NFC North titles, it also includes numerous draft busts and free agent fiascoes.
Angelo came to Chicago in 2001 after serving as the director of player personnel of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was in Tampa where he first worked with Lovie Smith. He soon hired Smith to coach the Bears when Dick Jauron was fired in 2004.
Though he had only one head coach hire, Angelo had 11 drafts to engineer. His record is dubious.
If he is judged on first-rounders alone, he would get an F. In the Bears last game of the season, not one first-round draft pick started. Of his last three first round picks, Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams were injured, while Greg Olsen was traded away to the Panthers before the 2011 season.
Angelo was much more adept in the later rounds. Lance Briggs, Henry Melton, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Corey Graham were all drafted in the third round or later. But he had plenty of busts in those rounds, too. Do you remember Dan LeFevour? Or Marcus Harrison? Juaquin Iglesias? Those were all Jerry picks, too.
After the Bears went through quarterback instability for most of the first decade of the century. Cutler is still young and has plenty of potential, he has broken several Bears passing records in his time with the Bears. Unfortunately, it was Cutler's injury that exposed the shallow team that Angelo had assembled. Back-up quarterback Caleb Hanie floundered, and the receivers were in disarray during a five-game losing streak in 2011.
In free agency, Angelo has pulled one really big star. Julius Peppers signed a six-year contract with the Bears worth upwards of $91 million. In that same free agent period, he also signed expensive busts Chester Taylor and Brandon Manumaleuna. During the 2011, lockout-shortened free agency, he signed three former Cowboys. Roy Williams and Marion Barber both underperformed, while Sam Hurd was busted on federal drug charges.
What Bears fans might have found the worst part of Angelo's tenure is how he has treated several fan favorites. Matt Forte is still waiting for a contract extension after Angelo lowballed the running back. Olin Kreutz, the longtime Bears center, was let go after a reported $500,000 difference in salary. Greg Olsen was traded away. Thomas Jones was let go in favor of Cedric Benson.
He also angered other NFL teams. During the 2011 draft, the Bears front office did not report a trade to the NFL that had been agreed upon by the Baltimore Ravens. Because the draft wasn't reported, the Ravens did not get the extra pick that they expected.
All of Angelo's problems would be forgiven, though, if the Bears had won the Super Bowl even once during his era. They came close, but it's not enough. Now, for the first time in 11 years, they will have the chance to try to get to the Lombardi Trophy without him.