PFW caught up with Bears chairman George McCaskey Wednesday at Halas Hall after a forum on health and safety for high school coaches and players concluded. The Bears' front office is preparing for free agency, which begins March 13, with a general manager other than Jerry Angelo for the first time in a decade, and McCaskey said there has been a new energy at team headquarters as Angelo's replacement, Phil Emery, settles into his new job.
"(Phil is) a very driven, very focused, very committed individual and we're glad we got him," McCaskey told PFW. "Whenever there's a change, there's a new energy. The important thing is to sustain that drive."
The Bears consistently have said that money will not be an issue that prevents Emery from going out and signing a player if he determines it's a great fit for the team, but McCaskey reiterated that he won't be making — or trying to influence — player-personnel decisions. Not even when it comes to impending free-agent DE Israel Idonije, who is one of the chairman's favorite players.
"That's not up to me," McCaskey said. "I've said on several occasions that I'm a big fan of Israel's, but that's both on the field and off the field. The roster decisions are firmly in Phil's hands. That's not up to me.
"That's one of the important things. You hire good people and you stay out of your way and let them do their job."
The Bears are expected to have about $20 million in salary-cap space this offseason, but a chunk of that could be spent on a new deal for RB Matt Forté.
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