Saints G.M. Mickey Loomis had high praise for Ryan Pace in his Tuesday press conference and said the 37-year-old Pace is ready for the responsibilities of being an NFL general manager. Pace interviewed with the Bears yesterday and reportedly made such an impression that they hired him on the spot. He's already sitting in on their head coach interviews.
Pace joined the Saints in 2001 and was promoted to his current position, director of player personnel, in 2013.
"I'd hate to lose him and yet, he's ready for a general manager's job," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said at his end-of-season press conference Tuesday. "He's talented. I would expect to lose him at some point."
The Bears also interviewed Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnal Chris Ballard, Houston Texans director of pro personnel Brian Gaine and Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.
Pace, 37, becomes the youngest general manager in the league.
"He is really good at what he does," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Pace last week. "He's a big part of what we do. He's very talented and I know he has been promoted here a few times, and deservedly so.
"I get fired up when he comes to see me first thing this morning. His mind is already racing. I know he is all-in."
Pace played football at Eastern Illinois and joined the Saints in 2001. He was pro scouting director for six years before being promoted to his current title in 2013.
Loomis said the team would allow Pace to interview after this offseason. Pace reportedly turned down an opportunity to speak with the New York Jets.
As for who the Saints may elevate to replace Pace, the article had this to say:
Pace's top two deputies in the Saints' personnel department are pro scouting director Terry Fontenot and college scouting director Rick Reiprish.
A former Tulane standout, Fontenot has been with the organization for 11 years and could be considered if the team looks internally for a replacement.
Best of luck to Ryan! I haven't historically had much love for the Bears but I hope he is successful in Chi-Town. He's got his work cut out for him from the start as he first must find a head coach and then decide what to do with QB Jay Cutler.
Mickey Loomis released a statement about the hiring:
We wish to congratulate the Chicago Bears on the hiring of Ryan Pace as their General Manager. He has been an outstanding member of the New Orleans Saints organization for the past 15 years.
He has progressed successfully from scouting assistant to pro scout to Director of Pro Scouting and finally to Director of Player Personnel, overseeing both college and pro personnel. He has been a key contributor in developing our roster throughout the past years.
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.