Power ranking the NFL general manager vacancies: Chicago Bears, New York Giants and more

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) avoids pressure during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After a jam-packed Black Monday on the coaching front, the league's general managers emerged mostly unscathed.

As things stand, there are only three open general manager jobs, and none are particularly enticing compared to some in recent years. Here’s how I’d rank the openings given the current rosters, cap situations and draft capital available. 

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1. Chicago Bears

2021 Record: 6-11
2022 Projected Cap Space: $40.3 million
Top-100 Draft Picks: No. 39, No. 71

Justin Fields makes this job very attractive for two reasons. The first has everything to do with my pre-draft evaluation: He was the third-ranked player on the PFF draft board and showed more than enough in his rookie season not to dissuade me from that opinion. The other reason is that whoever ends up leading the Bears won’t be the person who drafted Fields, which is big from a job-security standpoint. If Fields gets sacked 100 times next year and obviously can’t play, none of that will be held against the new GM. Whoever is in charge will have every opportunity to get his guy, should Fields fail, buying them more time.

As far as the rest of the roster is concerned, that’s where things get hairy. This roster setup still pales in comparison to some GM openings from a year ago. Areas of grave need include cornerback, receiver, and offensive tackle — three of the more expensive positions to address in the NFL. 

Ryan Pace dealt away so many draft picks that the list of cornerstone contributors on rookie deals is scant. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson and wide receiver Darnell Mooney are the only ones with a proven track record at this point, while tackle Teven Jenkins, tight end Cole Kmet and defensive end Trevis Gipson all have provided reasons for optimism. Still, with already $40 million in cap space — and $10 million more easily obtainable — the Bears can smooth out a lot of roster holes this offseason.

2. New York Giants

2021 Record: 4-13
2022 Projected Cap Space: -$0.4 million
Top-100 Draft Picks: No. 5, No. 7, No. 36, No. 69, No. 81

It will take a reset year, but there’s a solid young core to work with in East Rutherford. Gettleman’s downfall was handing out bloated free-agent deals. The list of players making $10+ million on the Giants' roster is easily the worst such list in the NFL:

When those are your highest-paid players, you have no chance of competing. Because of that, though, they could easily clear $30 million in cap space without the roster even feeling an impact. 

New York Giants inside linebacker Tae Crowder (48) intercepts a pass in front of free safety Xavier McKinney (29) during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles. Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

For an incoming GM, Gettleman actually left a modicum of talent on rookie contracts. Guys like defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, left tackle Andrew Thomas, safety Xavier McKinney and wide receiver Kadarius Toney all look like building blocks you can rely on to be quality starters. 

Of course, there’s still the elephant in the room: quarterback Daniel Jones. He’s certainly an NFL-caliber starter. That being said, he’s never been close to a high-end starter or put up anything close statistically, even dating back to his college days at Duke.

Even if Jones does see a nice bump in production in 2022 under a new coaching staff, the incoming GM immediately has to pay him either with the fifth-year option or an extension. Given that they own two top-10 picks, the Giants may opt to take another swing there — even in a relatively weak quarterback class — and are well-situated to get whichever one they deem to be the top guy in the class. 

3. Minnesota Vikings

2021 Record: 8-9
2022 Projected Cap Space: -$9.1 million
Top-100 Draft Picks: No. 11, No. 46, No. 77

The Giants and Vikings are currently over the cap for 2022. The deciding factor between the two teams for any potential candidate is draft capital and talent on rookie deals. For the Vikings, that consists of Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw and a whole lot of unproven picks from recent drafts.  

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The defense that fueled a 2017 NFC championship game appearance is no more. They’ll roll into 2022 with Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith all on the wrong side of 30. Danielle Hunter has only played 384 snaps the past two seasons because of back and pec injuries, so there’s no telling if he returns to his elite form. To top it all off, I’m not sure you can expect your next defensive coordinator to be an upgrade over Mike Zimmer on that side of the ball. 

Whoever takes this job will have their tenure defined by how they handle quarterback Kirk Cousins. The veteran quarterback is coming off a career year, earning the fifth-best PFF passing grade in the NFL. The problem is that he’s being paid even more than that ranking. His $45 million cap hit in 2022 is the third-highest in the NFL, and he’ll be a free agent in 2023. Can you win a Super Bowl with a quarterback like him being paid top dollar? That’s a decision the new GM will have to make. If they don’t think so, trading him ASAP is the only move, as this team is desperate for the draft picks and cap space.


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