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Bears GM search will be methodical

Reggie McKenzie Packers’ director football operations could be Bears’ GM radar. | Evan Siegle~AP

Reggie McKenzie, the Packers’ director of football operations, could be on the Bears’ GM radar. | Evan Siegle~AP

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Updated: May 9, 2012 10:09AM

During his news conference Tuesday, Bears CEO Ted Phillips said there’s no timetable for landing the next general manager.

‘‘I want to make sure we get the right person in here,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘We’re going to be thorough and we’re going to be thoughtful about it and find the right fit.’’

Time, though, might not be on the Bears’ side.

The Indianapolis Colts, the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams also are looking for general managers, and they initiated the process in earnest Wednesday.

As the Sun-Times reported in the morning, Reggie McKenzie, the Green Bay Packers’ football
operations director, had an interview scheduled with the Raiders later in the day.

In addition, multiple league sources claimed that clubs have started to request permission to speak to other candidates.

McKenzie and Eric Decosta, the Baltimore Ravens’ director of player personnel, are among the highest-profile candidates available, and both would consider the Bears, sources said. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, DeCosta and Les Snead, the Atlanta Falcons’
director of player personnel, are set to interview with the Rams.

DeCosta has been a popular general-manager candidate for several years, but he has turned down
numerous opportunities to even interview because of his affinity for the Ravens and the Baltimore area, where his wife is from.

But one source said DeCosta would ‘‘strongly consider” the Bears if the club expressed an ­interest. He doesn’t have an ­obvious tie to Chicago — he’s from Massachusetts — but he served as the Raven’s Midwest-area scout from 1998 to 2002.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Rams and Colts already have requested to speak to DeCosta.

As for McKenzie, the Raiders have an obvious advantage because he played linebacker there. In addition, McKenzie developed under former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who worked in the personnel department with the Raiders for a combined 25 years. Wolf is a consultant to Raiders ownership in their search for a general ­manager.

Two years ago, the Packers blocked the Bears’ request to speak to quarterbacks coach Tom ­Clements for their offensive ­coordinator job. Per NFL policy, because they have granted one team permission to speak to ­McKenzie, they cannot deny other clubs a chance to interview him, too.

Because the Packers’ season isn’t over, McKenzie can’t formalize a contract with another club until the team is eliminated from contention. That rule might be why Phillips hinted Tuesday that the Bears’ hiring process could drag into February. Super Bowl XLVI is Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.

While there’s a concern about up-and-comers being ready to become head coaches, the belief is that it’s an ideal time for new general managers. There’s a savvy veteran available in Bill Polian, but there are many other candidates who haven’t yet held that position.

Notables include John Dorsey of the Packers, Marc Ross of the New York Giants, Ray Farmer of the Kansas City Chiefs, Will Lewis of the Seattle Seahawks, Louis Reddick of the Philadelphia ­Eagles, Sheldon White of the Detroit
Lions, Lake Dawson of the Tennessee Titans, Morocco Brown of the Washington Redskins, and Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals.

Interestingly, Dorsey reportedly turned down an offer to interview with the Colts for their vacancy, ­according to ESPN.

While there are restrictions on when an assistant coach on a playoff team can speak to another team about a head-coaching position, scouts and personnel executives aren’t held to the same rules. That’s at the discretion of each employer club to determine when is an appropriate time for an interview. But all requests to a club must be submitted in written form to an owner.

The San Diego Chargers were widely rumored to be ousting coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith, but they ­retained both for the 2012 season.

As for the Bears, while Phillips didn’t address when they hoped to make a hire, he made one thing clear.

‘‘Obviously, with free agency March 12, it can back up from there,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s going to be a decision made before then.’’

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