The possibility of Tim Ruskell replacing Bobby DePaul in the Bears' front office is more than likely, according to multiple NFL sources who believe the hiring could happen within the week.
"He's clearly the front-runner," according to one source, "more so than most people think. It's almost a given."
Ruskell resigned as the Seattle Seahawks' president of football operations/general manager Dec. 3, after it became obvious he would not be rehired when his contract expired at the end of the 2009 season.
Expectations are that Ruskell will be named Bears vice president of player personnel under general manager Jerry Angelo, one of his closest friends in the business.
Ruskell would take over the duties that were handled for nine years by DePaul, who was fired Monday. Ruskell also may assume the duties of director of college scouting if Greg Gabriel follows DePaul out the door.
The 53-year-old Ruskell worked under Angelo for 14 years in Tampa, first as a Buccaneers regional scout (1987-91) and then as the Bucs' director of college scouting from 1992-2000.
But from 1992-96, the Bucs had losing records in all five years, including double-digit losses four times. In the next four years, the Bucs never had a losing season, and they had double-digit wins three times.
Ruskell's five years in Seattle also were inconsistent.
His first draft brought standout linebackers Lofa Tatupu and LeRoy Hill. Along with free agents such as wide receiver Joe Jurevicius and defensive end Bryce Fisher, they helped get the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL, where they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10.
Just one of his six 2006 draft choices is a starter for the Seahawks. Cornerback Kelly Jennings, the first-rounder that year, has 1 career interception. Two draft picks in each of the past three years (out of 22) were starters in '09.
Ruskell's forays into free agency have not been very successful recently. Last year he spent $40 million over five years, including $15 million in guaranteed money, on 32-year-old wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
He caught 79 passes for 911 yards and 3 touchdowns; decent numbers but not enough to justify his contract.
Ruskell traded his 2007 first-rounder for wide receiver Deion Branch, who cost a king's ransom ($39 million over six years). That deal has been a shipwreck. Branch has averaged just 44 catches and 559 yards in four seasons in Seattle.