By all accounts, new Bears G.M. Phil Emery has a reputation for working hard, and working smart. He’ll likely need a lot of both once he reports for duty at Halas Hall.
Apart from the inherent awkwardness of being hired to run a football operation with an entrenched head coach who isn’t getting fired any time soon (apparently), Emery faces other challenges in the immediate and not-too-distant future.
Running back Matt Forte has made no secret of his desire for a long-term deal. If the Bears use the franchise tag on Forte, he can stay away from the team until the eve of the regular season and still earn the full franchise salary for 2012, showing up in something other than prime football shape.
Does Emery regard Forte as a top-tier running back or an interchangeable part? The manner in which Emery resolves that question will go a long way toward determining Forte’s future in Chicago.
Then there’s the challenge presented by other big-name players who are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Linebacker Lance Briggs hasn’t been happy with his contract (what else is new?), and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has 12 years of NFL wear and tear.
Throw in the fact that plenty of Angelo’s hires remain in the building, and Emery definitely will earn his salary in the short term, and possibly beyond.