All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith loves the Chicago Bears, but he does not believe the feeling is mutual.

Smith issued a statement requesting a trade on Tuesday, writing "the new front office regime doesn't value me here".

Set to make $9.735million in the final year of his rookie contract, Smith, who represents himself, had been holding out during training camp while working towards a new deal.

The 25-year-old, however, has become infuriated with negotiating with first-year general manager Ryan Poles and now wants out.

"The new front office regime doesn't value me here," Smith wrote in a statement posted by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

"They've refused to negotiate in good faith, every step of this journey has been 'take it or leave it'.

"The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it. I've been trying to get something done that's fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me.

"I wanted to be a Bear for my entire career, help this team bring a Super Bowl back to our city.

"However, they have left me no choice than to request a trade that allows me to play for an organisation that truly values what I bring to the table."

Selected eighth overall in the 2018 draft, Smith has been one of the league's top linebackers and was looking to be paid like one.

Smith was reportedly offended by Chicago's backloaded offer that included de-escalators that are not in the contract of any of the other 94 non-quarterbacks making at least $15m per year.

Smith ranked fifth in the NFL in total tackles last season with 163 to go with 12 tackles for loss to earn second-team All-Pro honours for the second straight year.

In 61 career games, he has 538 total tackles, 43 tackles for loss and five interceptions, making him one of just three defensive players with at least 300 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and five interceptions since 2018, along with Darius Leonard and Jamie Collins Sr.

Smith apologised to Chicago fans and implied he could possibly withdraw the trade request if team ownership can restore the fragmented relationship but said it is unlikely he will ever put on a Bears uniform again.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to the McCaskey family, and maybe they can salvage this," he wrote, "but as of right now I don't see a path back to the organisation I truly love."

The Chicago Bears have bolstered their offensive line, signing veteran tackle Riley Reiff to a one-year deal that will likely pay him $10million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The deal, which was reported on Tuesday, could be worth up to $12.5million. 

Considered one of the best free agents still on the market, Reiff started 12 games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021 before an ankle injury ended his season. 

Since being drafted 23rd overall by the Detroit Lions in 2012, the 33-year-old Reiff has appeared in 147 games with 139 starts. This will be his third NFC North team after spending his first five seasons with the Lions and the next four with the Minnesota Vikings, with whom he signed as a free agent prior to the 2017 season. 

Reiff is expected to win the starting left tackle job for a Bears team that struggled mightily to protect Justin Fields in his 2021 rookie season. 

The Chicago offensive line allowed a league-worst 58 sacks last season with Fields being sacked on 11.8 per cent of his dropbacks – the worst rate in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 250 pass attempts. 

The Atlanta Falcons signed Eddie Goldman in early July to provide depth on the defensive line, but he is stepping away from the game before ever stepping foot on the field with his new team.

Goldman informed the Falcons on Tuesday that he is retiring from the NFL.

The announcement came less than two weeks after the 28-year-old signed a $1.12million, one-year deal with Atlanta on July 6.

A second-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2015, Goldman spent his entire seven-year career with Chicago, which included opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

He returned in 2021, playing in 14 games while totalling 22 tackles.

Over his career, Goldman appeared in 81 games with 73 starts, compiling 175 tackles with 13 sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Goldman had one year remaining on a four-year contract worth $42million before the Bears decided to release him on March 14.

While quarterback-needy teams grappled with the decision over whether to bet on a member of an underwhelming 2022 draft class at the position, those teams who were astute enough to select a signal-caller from the loaded 2021 class spent their offseasons attempting to stack the deck around the player they handpicked as the future of the franchise.

The 2022 season will be a significant one for Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones, with questions sure to be asked of the five first-round picks if they do not show signs of vindicating their respective franchises for selecting them last year.

Jones arguably already proved himself as the most pro-ready QB of the quintet in an impressive rookie campaign, but 2022 may well reveal how high the ceiling is for the least physically gifted of the bunch. The rest are all aiming to prove they have the skill sets to join the league's expanding and increasingly youthful elite at the NFL's most important position. 

Indeed, the first four quarterbacks off the board in 2021 were all regarded as players with the potential to elevate those around them and take their offenses to new heights. But a quarterback, regardless of his athletic and mental gifts, cannot do it all himself. So who among the 2021 first-rounders has the best supporting cast to help them excel?

To help us answer that question, we at Stats Perform have gone back to look at our post-free agency positional unit baselines that inform our team rankings.

The baselines were produced for seven different units: quarterback, pass blocking, run blocking, route runners/pass catchers, pass rush, run defense and pass defense. The units are comprised of projected playing time for players on the roster combined with the player baselines linked to each of those units.

An individual player has a year-over-year baseline for a unit input (i.e. pass blocking for a team's projected left tackle). His baseline is combined with those of his team-mates and then adjusted for the importance of the position to that unit to produce an overall unit baseline.

The six non-quarterback baselines, plus a look at some of the moves made in the draft by each quarterback's respective team, provide a picture that reveals which of the second-year signal-callers have the talent around them to thrive.

5. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Even though the numbers are not impressive, there were clear flashes of promise in Fields' rookie season with the Bears.

While he only finished with a 70.9 well-thrown percentage – seven percentage points below the average for quarterbacks with at least 50 throws – and had a pickable pass rate of 5.36 per cent that was the eighth-worst among that group, Fields did display the upside that led the Bears to trade up for him.

Only two quarterbacks averaged more air yards per attempt than Fields' 10.02 and his three passing plays of 50 yards or more were the most of all rookie quarterbacks and as many as Josh Allen and Justin Herbert managed all season.

You would think, therefore, that the Bears' focus this offseason would be on giving Fields the weapons to produce further explosive plays in 2022. Not so, the Bears waited until the third round to add a wide receiver in the draft – 25-year-old return specialist Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears' reluctance to add to a group of pass-catchers that prior to the draft had the sixth-lowest unit baseline in the NFL hardly suggests at a sophomore surge for Fields in 2022.

And with Chicago's offensive line among the worst in the league for pass protection and run-blocking baseline and its defense in the bottom six for pass defense and bottom three for pass rush, it appears likely to be another year when Fields is swimming against a tide engineered by his own franchise.

4. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Simply having an adult in the room with experience of winning at the NFL level should help Lawrence's cause, with Doug Pederson a substantial improvement on Urban Meyer as head coach.

As is the case with Fields in Chicago, Pederson will hope Lwrence can build on last season's flashes of the talent that led some to label him as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Lawrence's well-thrown percentage of 76.3 was significantly better than that of Fields, but his 26 pickable passes were the fourth-most in the league.

Unlike the Bears, the Jags invested heavily in getting Lawrence receiving help, doing so in a bemusing manner as they threw eye-watering amounts of money at players who fit best as secondary targets rather than as the leading receiver for a player dubbed a 'generational' quarterback prospect.

Indeed, the lucrative deals handed out to the likes of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones only put them 20th in pass-catching unit baseline prior to the draft. The hope will be that Kirk, who was seventh among receivers with at least 100 targets with a big-play rate of 35.6 per cent last year, can help Lawrence generate more explosives in year two.

And while much of the Jags' roster still reeks of mediocrity, an offensive line that ranked fourth in pass-block win rate in 2021 may give him the time to help justify the Jags' belief in Kirk and Lawrence's other new weapons.

3. Zach Wilson, New York Jets

The Jets received almost universal praise for their draft, acquiring cornerback Sauce Gardner, wide receiver Garrett Wilson and edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II in the first round before then adding the consensus top running back in the class – Iowa State's Breece Hall – in the second.

Their roster looks in significantly better shape than it did at the end of the 2021 campaign, but the Jets were working from a pretty low starting point.

Coming out of free agency, only six teams had a lower unit baseline among their pass-catchers than the Jets, whose offensive line was in the bottom half of the league in pass protection baseline and in the run-blocking baseline.

Johnson's arrival and the return of fellow edge rusher Carl Lawson from injury should provide a clear boost to a pass rush that was fourth in unit baseline last year while a secondary that exited free agency just outside the top 10 in pass defense baseline appears much better equipped to provide support to Wilson and the offense.

However, Wilson had the worst well-thrown percentage (66.6) of any rookie quarterback last season, with Fields (5.36) and fellow rookie Davis Mills (5.56) the only two quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts to have a higher pickable pass rate than Wilson's 5.21 per cent.

The Jets are relying on Mekhi Becton to get healthy and play a full season at left tackle and, though they have some more established options at tight end and receiver, are also putting a lot on a rookie receiver in likely leaning heavily on Garrett Wilson to elevate his second-year quarterback.

It has been a successful offseason for the Jets, but a lot needs to happen for their hopes of a second-year leap for team and quarterback to come to fruition.

2. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Were it not for the outstanding season enjoyed by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Jones may well have won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The outstanding accuracy Jones demonstrated at Alabama translated to the pros, Jones producing a well-thrown ball on 80.1 per cent of attempts. He achieved that feat while averaging more air yards per attempt (8.11) than both Lawrence and Wilson, yet there is reason for trepidation around thoughts of him progressing significantly in his second year.

Jones' passer rating on throws of 21 or more air yards was 65.4 – 31st among the 41 quarterbacks to attempt at least 10, illustrating the limited ceiling of a quarterback whose arm is not on the level of his fellow 2021 first-rounders.

Yet Jones does have the benefit of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. After free agency, the Patriots' O-Line was tied for sixth in pass protection unit baseline and fifth in run blocking baseline.

They replaced guard Shaq Mason, who was surprisingly traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by making the similarly eyebrow-raising move of selecting Chattanooga guard Cole Strange in the first round of the draft. Strange's arrival should solidify the interior of the line and allow the Patriots to stick to a formula of leaning on the run game to take the pressure off Jones.

New England's receiving corps is at best uninspiring and the Patriots' failure to address a depleted secondary may prohibit playoff aspirations, but the strength in the trenches means Jones is in a better position to achieve short-term success than most of his second-year contemporaries.

1. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are set to step into the unknown in 2021, with all signs pointing to Lance playing his first full season since his lone campaign as the starting quarterback at North Dakota State in 2019 despite Jimmy Garoppolo's continued presence on the roster.

Handing the keys to an offense that was in the NFC championship Game over to a quarterback with only two career starts to his name represents a substantial risk, but it is a risk the Niners are in an excellent position to take.

While there remains no sign of the impasse between San Francisco and All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel coming to an end, the Niners left free agency with a group of pass-catchers ranked sixth in the league in unit baseline. They added to that group in the draft by selecting SMU speedster Danny Gray in the third round.

San Francisco's pass defense was also in the top half of the league in that regard going into the draft, while its pass rush was third in unit baseline and could have an even higher ceiling in 2022 if Drake Jackson adapts quickly to the pros. The Niners' second-round pick registered a pressure rate of 24.2 that was the fifth-best among edge rushers in this draft class in 2021.

The Niners ranked in the top 10 in pass block win rate and seventh in run block win rate last season, yet their biggest issue may be maintaining that standard after losing left guard Laken Tomlinson to the Jets amid doubts over whether center Alex Mack would retire.

Lance could, therefore, be playing behind a largely inexperienced O-Line this coming season. However, the data from his small sample size last year hinted at him having what it takes to elevate those around him. He averaged 10.10 air yards per attempt – the second-most in the NFL – and no player to average at least 9.0 air yards had a better well-thrown percentage than Lance's 77.1.

His challenge will be to maintain that combination of aggression and accuracy over the course of a full season.

If the Niners can come to an understanding with Samuel, Lance will have one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL to help him build on those encouraging flashes. He'll also benefit from the support of a stout defense built on the strength of its front and a diverse running game that will likely grow even more varied with him under center.

The trump card for Lance is head coach Kyle Shanahan, who is arguably the pre-eminent offensive mind of the modern NFL. Between the talent on both sides of the ball and Shanahan's ability to draw up a running game and put receivers in space, the Niners are a high-floor, high ceiling team.

There may be doubts about Lance, but there should be no doubt he is the quarterback in the best situation to silence those concerns.

The Buffalo Bills have decided to match the offer sheet offensive lineman Ryan Bates signed with the Chicago Bears.

AFC East champions the Bills had until Tuesday to decide whether they would ensure they kept the restricted free agent.

To do so, they had to match the Bears' four-year contract offer, which reportedly includes two fully guaranteed years at the start of the deal.

Guard Bates, who also had free-agent visits with the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots, will now remain with the Bills.

The 25-year-old joined Buffalo in a 2019 trade from the Philadelphia Eagles.

"We have kind of pondered that and worked through it – obviously we are tight on the cap, but we are going to bring Ryan back," Bills general manager Brandon Beane confirmed.

"It's really important for us to be strong up front, both lines. Ryan's a versatile player. He can actually play all five spots, but most importantly, he's been a center, guard he's filled in.

"We thought when he had his opportunity this year, he did a heck of a job starting the last four regular-season games and then the two postseason games. 

"It didn't seem too big for him. You want to keep as many of those key pieces, he knows our system. He obviously knows [quarterback] Josh Allen."

Bears GM Ryan Poles was frustrated, saying: "I just found that out. 

"It stinks. But that's part of the RFA process. So we'll adjust and we'll keep adding players. It's out of your control."

The Bills, who are rated as the early Super Bowl favourites, also brought back offensive lineman Ike Boettger after agreeing a one-year deal.

Canada could cause an upset at the Qatar World Cup, with Chicago Bears kicker Cairo Santos suggesting they will "fly under the radar" in a similar fashion to Croatia.

The Maple Leafs secured a long-awaited return to the biggest tournament in world football with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica in Toronto on Sunday.

It ends a 36-year exodus from the World Cup, since Canada's only previous appearance was at Mexico 1986, where they lost all three group-stage matches without scoring against France, Hungary and the Soviet Union.

But Santos – the NFL's first Brazilian player and a keen footballer as a child – feels Canada will have nothing to prove to themselves when they step out onto the pitch later this year looking to make history, drawing comparisons with 2018 finalists Croatia.

"They're certainly a team that are going to be flying under the radar," Santos told Stats Perform. "They haven't been to the World Cup.

"The World Cup is part of some history that comes with a team, and when you step on the field, the history plays a big part, too.

"If they can be that story that we saw... Croatia kind of did that at the last World Cup. So, why not Canada? They've got some exciting players, too.

"I'll be following them. Maybe we'll see a US-Canada rivalry at some time in the World Cup, too. What a time that will be."

The United States will join Canada in the finals if they avoid a heavy defeat away to Costa Rica in their final CONCACAF qualifier.

USA and Canada, along with Mexico, are hosts of the 2026 World Cup, with their sides building towards that tournament in recent years.

Led by English coach John Herdman, Canada made the semi-finals of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup in their best result in 14 years.

 

After four uneven years as starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and one year as a backup for the Buffalo Bills, Mitch Trubisky was ready for a new start.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers came calling, Trubisky knew that was exactly where he wanted to play.

"My goal through free agency was to find a way to get back on the field," the 27-year-old Trubisky said on Thursday, shortly after his two-year, $14 million deal with Pittsburgh became official.

"When an opportunity arose to play for coach [Mike] Tomlin and wear a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform, I was so excited. Now I'm ready to roll and get to it."

The second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft by the Bears, Trubisky's career never quite took off in Chicago.

He helped the Bears to playoff berths in 2018 and '20 and was reportedly well liked among his teammates, but he was never viewed as being a dangerous downfield passer. Among 41 QBs with at least 600 pass attempts from 2017-20, he ranked 24th in completion percentage (64.0), 29th in passer rating (87.2) and 35th in yards per attempt (6.73).

Part of the reason for his lack of success, however, also stems from an offense that failed to take shape under former Bears coach Matt Nagy.

Trubisky spent this past season as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo and credits his time there as crucial in recognising the type of organisation he wanted to be a part of.

"I think I learned a lot," he said. "I was in a great organisation and the first thing that I really learned when [I got] to Buffalo is what a great culture feels like, and I already feel like that here, already in my short time in Pittsburgh.

"Culture wins. I could tell when I was in Buffalo, and I can tell it's going to be a great fit here with the culture. I'm excited to contribute to that. It was a huge year for me in Buffalo, just to take a reset and get my mind right and continue to hone my skills and just get ready for the next opportunity."

He joins a Steelers team steeped in tradition and one with an opening at quarterback following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.

During his 18-year career with the Steelers, Roethlisberger led the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl championships, eight AFC North Division titles and 12 playoff berths.

"They didn't really have to make a pitch to me or sell me on anything," Trubisky said. "This is where I wanted to be, play for coach Tomlin, be a part of the rich Pittsburgh Steelers history and contribute to that.”

Trubisky still must prove he is capable of being Roethlisberger’s heir apparent, however.

General manager Kevin Colbert has said before the team is comfortable going forward with Mason Rudolph, who has gone 5-4-1 in 10 starts for the Steelers since being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft.

Trubisky, though, is confident he has the skill set to win the job and earn the trust of his teammates.

"I'm in a situation where I have to prove myself back on the field," he said. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing. You're always betting on yourself in that sense, and I definitely am in this case.

"You've got to bet on yourself and trust what you're capable of."

Former Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson is joining reigning Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams after agreeing to a three-year deal worth up to $46million.

The deal includes just over $30m in guaranteed money, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Robinson, 28, has long been considered one of the NFL's most underappreciated receivers, finding ways to produce with very little help from mediocre quarterback play.

Robinson has only seen more than 70 pass attempts thrown his way by two quarterbacks in his career – Blake Bortles (372 attempts) and Mitch Trubisky (300 attempts).

Now he gets a chance to prove himself with Matthew Stafford under centre, where instead of being the primary focus of the defensive game plan, he will start opposite the league's most productive receiver and reigning Offensive Player of the Year, Cooper Kupp.

The Chicago Bears are sending defensive end Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers, according to reports.

ESPN's Adam Schefter said the Chargers were expected to send a 2022 second-round draft pick and a 2023 sixth-round draft pick to Chicago in exchange for the six-time Pro Bowler.

Mack has been on the Bears since 2018, recording 12.5 sacks in his first season with the team for a fourth consecutive year in double figures.

Those numbers have tailed off a little since and the 31-year-old only played in seven games in 2021 due to injury.

However, across his Bears career, Mack still ranked as high as 12th league-wide for pressures. He will now line up opposite Joey Bosa, who ranked eighth over the same period.

Mack is also to be reunited with Chargers coach Brandon Staley, who was the Bears' outside linebackers coach in that strong first season in Chicago.

Staley will hope Mack can have a transformative impact for the Chargers' defense, which gave up 27.0 points and 138.9 rushing yards per game last year.

The Chicago Bears are set to appoint Matt Eberflus as their new head coach, according to widespread reports.

Chicago have been looking for a new head coach since firing Matt Nagy, along with general manager Ryan Pace, earlier in January.

Their dismissals came on the back of another disappointing season, with Chicago finishing 6-11 for 2021.

The Bears appointed former Kansas City Chiefs executive Ryan Poles as the team's new general manager on Tuesday, and it seems that Eberflus, who has spent the last three seasons as the defensive coordinator at the Indianapolis Colts, will be the new coach.

Chicago considered the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and former Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, but NFL Network reported they settled on 51-year-old Eberflus as their preferred candidate.

It has also been reported that Quinn has told teams he wishes to stay at Dallas.

Ryan Poles got straight down to work as general manager of the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, interviewing Jim Caldwell for the role of head coach.

After landing the GM job earlier in the day, Poles set about the process of securing a successor to Matt Nagy, with veteran former Colts and Lions coach Caldwell just one figure in the frame.

While the 67-year-old Caldwell already has plenty of top-level experience, Poles is a man on the rise. He joins the Bears having previously served as executive director of player personnel with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said of the appointment of the 36-year-old Poles: "We are thrilled to be able to add someone of Ryan's background and football expertise to our organisation.

"His accomplishments with the Chiefs speak for themselves and amplified the team's standing as one of the premier franchises in professional sports. We are confident that under his leadership, we will reach our goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Chicago."

That is the target that Poles pointed to, also, although the Bears have only previously won the Super Bowl once before, in the 1985 season. Poles was born in 1985.

The new general manager said on the team's website: "I am extremely grateful to George, the McCaskey family and the rest of the Bears organisation for this opportunity.

"Together with my family, I'm looking forward to hitting the ground running to help get this organisation, its fanbase and the city what they deserve: a winning team and a Super Bowl trophy."

The highly rated Poles had also been on a list of candidates for GM jobs with the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.

The Bears limped in third in the NFC North this season with a 6-11 record, their worst performance since going 5-11 in 2017.

Coach Nagy and GM Ryan Pace were sacked at the season's end, and Nagy's replacement has yet to be confirmed, with Dan Quinn, Matt Eberflus and Caldwell reportedly three contenders for that post.

Chicago lost Super Bowl XLI to the Indianapolis Colts after the 2006 season and reached the NFC Championship Game - where they were beaten by the Green Bay Packers - in 2010, both under the guidance of Lovie Smith.

They are winless from just two post-season appearances since, as the Packers continue to dominate the NFC North.

Ryan Poles will be the new general manager of the Chicago Bears, according to NFL Network.

An agreement is said to have been reached to hire the 36-year-old, who will step up after serving as executive director of player personnel with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Reporting the deal, the NFL's official website said Poles had also been on a list of candidates for GM jobs with the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.

The Bears have yet to finalise the deal that is set to see Poles, who was interviewed on Friday, step up to a general manager position for the first time.

Bears chairman George H. McCaskey has led the search for the new general manager, and interviews were also held with 12 other candidates: Glenn Cook, Champ Kelly, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Jeff Ireland, Monti Ossenfort, Joe Schoen, Ed Dodds, Ron Carthon, Omar Khan, Morocco Brown, Reggie McKenzie and Eliot Wolf

The Bears limped in third in the NFC North this season with a 6-11 record, their worst performance since going 5-11 in 2017.

Coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace were sacked at the season's end, and Nagy's replacement has yet to be confirmed, with Dan Quinn, Matt Eberflus and Jim Caldwell reportedly three contenders for that post.

Poles joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2008, but his playing career was short-lived. He switched to the Chiefs and served in a range of roles, impressing in scouting duties of increasing seniority, before becoming assistant director of player personnel in 2018 and executive director of player personnel in June of last year.

The new Bears regime will build around quarterback Justin Fields - a 2021 first-round pick - in a bid to end an 11-year drought without a win in the play-offs.

Chicago lost Super Bowl XLI to the Indianapolis Colts after the 2006 season and reached the NFC Championship Game - where they were beaten by the Green Bay Packers - in 2010, both under the guidance of Lovie Smith.

They are winless from just two post-season appearances since, as the Packers continue to dominate the NFC North.

Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace have been fired by the Chicago Bears after the conclusion of a disappointing 6-11 season for the team.

The Bears confirmed on Monday they have opted to move on from both their head coach and general manager after missing out on the playoffs in 2021.

A 31-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday proved to be the final NFL game with the team for Nagy and Pace, though their positions have been under scrutiny throughout the campaign.

Pace took the GM job in 2015 and spent seven seasons with the Bears, hiring two coaches - John Fox and Nagy - during his tenure.

Nagy, meanwhile, has had to fend off questions about his job security throughout the season and has now had his fate confirmed after the worst of his four years in charge.

The franchise looked to be heading in the right direction when Nagy, in his first campaign, led the Bears to a 12-4 record in 2018 and was named NFL Coach of the Year.

But as former second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky struggled, two consecutive 8-8 seasons added to the pressure going into this year.

Pace had previously traded up in the draft to select Trubisky in 2017 and took another shot at a first-round quarterback in 2021 when he swooped to take Justin Fields at 11.

Notable other moves included a huge trade for pass-rusher Khalil Mack in 2018 and bringing in Super Bowl winner Nick Foles at QB, which failed to have the desired effect.

The big move to land Fields in the draft, which excited the fanbase, was seen to provide a possible path to both men saving their jobs and leading the Bears into the future, but the Bears went 2-8 in 10 starts for the rookie.

It will therefore be a new regime that decides how to build around Fields in a bid to end an 11-year drought without a win in the playoffs.

Chicago lost Super Bowl XLI to the Indianapolis Colts after the 2006 season and reached the NFC Championship Game - where they were beaten by the Green Bay Packers - in 2010, both under the guidance of Lovie Smith.

But they are winless from just two postseason appearances since as the Packers continue to dominate the NFC North.

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

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