2019 Offseason: Top 10 General Manager Candidates

There was talk that this day wouldn’t come. They told us that they “loved working together”. We heard all about their mutual respect for one another, and how they wanted to build this thing together.

“They”, of course, is Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie.

“They”, obviously, were never going to last beyond this season. Not with the money that owner Mark Davis shoved in Gruden’s pocket. Not after the string of transactions during both the draft and free agency. No, this was no longer McKenzie’s team. That much was clear the moment Gruden sat down at the introductory press conference. We know who’s corner the owner is in.

I’ve gone over my feelings towards both Gruden and McKenzie before. I won’t rehash them here, but I will quickly summarize: McKenzie should have been fired. He had his hits (and they were big), but he also had his misses. There were more misses than hits. Those misses all add up. I get it.

However, moving on from a true, “personnel guy” in favor of a head coach (we saw this movie fairly recently in Philadelphia) is certainly not the answer. Things could get worse, somehow, before they get better.

The one way to make this better, of course, is to hire a true personnel guy. Now, I don’t think Gruden’s ego will allow him to do so. I think the Raiders end up with another washed, recycled “yes man”, and we see similar results for another eight-plus years.

Or, we can dream, and take a look at some of the brightest, more coveted personnel guys across the league.

Again, I can’t stress enough that this list below is simply “my list”. It’s my preferences. I believe out of these ten candidates, you could only make the argument for one, maybe two, of them (for the Raiders’ opening in particular). Given Gruden’s salary, and the obvious power and final say that he has, I can’t imagine any top-tier option essentially swallowing their pride and working under a head coach. Unless there’s an incredible sell job by the head coach in question, which may not necessarily be outside of the range of outcomes (more so just wishful thinking).

The names below appear in “rough” order (more attractive names toward the bottom), let’s say.

Trent Kirchner

Currently: Seattle Seahawks (Co-Director of Player Personnel)

Seattle’s become arguably the premiere “breeding ground” for front office personnel (and players alike). After their recent run of success, it’s easy to understand why. In 2017, Kirchner interviewed for both the 49ers (eventually withdrew his name) and Colts general manager openings. In 2016, he went out for the Lions’ opening, amongst others. In general, he’s credited with building the free agency board for Seattle (which has netted key contributors such as Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett over the years).

Monti Ossenfort

Currently: New England Patriots (Director of College Scouting)

Promoted to his current role back in 2014, all Ossenfort has done during ten-plus seasons with the Patriots is rise up the ranks (which is obviously notable given the gold standard that New England has set for the rest of the league, regularly lapping the competition). Having worked under the greatest of all time in The Hoodie, and perennial “hot name to fulfill your favorite teams general manager opening” Nick Caserio (who I didn’t even bother to mention in this piece), it’s only a matter of time before Ossenfort is leading his own group. Last year, the Patriots blocked the Texans’ interview request.

Mike Borgonzi

Currently: Kansas City Chiefs (Director of Football Operations)

Andy Reid’s tree (coaching and front office) is super-impressive. Brett Veach took over general manager duties in Kansas City for the fired John Dorsey. That allowed Borgonzi to slide into Chris Ballard’s old role, after Ballard took the general manager job in Indianapolis. Borgonzi was also in the running for the Chiefs’ opening, and now, given Reid’s extended run of success, the shots will surely keep coming. Borgonzi has been with the Chiefs since 2009.

Eliot Wolf

Currently: Cleveland Browns (Assistant General Manager)

We know all about the history of Ron Wolf and his connection and work with Al Davis and the Raiders. Simpler time. Better time. Winning times. The Raiders are far from that currently, and could use someone like the younger Wolf to turn that around. McKenzie and Gruden reportedly turned to Wolf this past offseason, but we know where he ended up (and the way things have played out early on in Oakland under Gruden, it’s hard to blame him). Now, things could come full-circle, given the familiarity. Wolf would be the one, “high profile”-type name from this list making some sort of sense. He obviously was passed over for the general manager opening in Green Bay before ending up under Dorsey in Cleveland, which may also say something.

Scott Fitterer

Currently: Seattle Seahawks (Co-Director of Player Personnel)

John Clayton tabs Fitterer as one of the “most important, least heralded members” of an always-stacked Seattle front office. Unlike his counterpart Kirchner, who was more involved on the free agent-side of things, Fitterer is closely tied to John Schneider and building the Seahawks’ eventual draft board. Fitterer’s name was thrown in the ring for the general manager opening in Kansas City last year. This piece outlines some of this draft day contributions; some guys you may have heard of like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, etc.

Joe Hortiz

Currently: Baltimore Ravens (Director of College Scouting)

Speaking of impressive runs, the work that Ozzie Newsome and the front office has done in Baltimore over the years is notable. Hortiz has been apart of it since 1998, which is quite the feat in of itself, slowly working his way all the way up the ladder (from personal assistant). For the Ravens, and their draft process, Hortiz oversees all of it. Last year, Hortiz’s name was mentioned for a similar opening with the Rams. In 2015, his name was thrown around in Philadelphia, but he either declined or was blocked.

Ed Dodds

Currently: Indianapolis Colts (Assistant General Manager)

If we want to walk down Narrative Street, Dodds has a connection to Oakland, having worked in some capacity with the Raiders prior. In total, it’s been 16 seasons for Dodds, 10 of which he spent in – surprise – the Seahawks’ front office, before being hired away by Ballard in Indianapolis. Now, quietly working with one of the more respected front offices in the league, I think we see Dodds get his shot sooner rather than later.

Joe Douglas

Currently: Philadelphia Eagles (Vice President of Player Personnel)

If we weren’t in it before, I think we’re in it now. Douglas starts the “untouchable tier”, for my money anyway. Douglas’ stock was hot before, having just been hired away from Baltimore after 15 years, to his brief stop in Chicago with the Bears, to being blocked for a Cleveland interview later on, to eventually moving to Philadelphia. Now, under Howie Roseman and with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, Douglas will be fielding all the phone calls. The Eagles are widely considered to have one of the best personnel departments in the league, and it feels like “when”, not “if”, with Douglas wearing a general manager title of his own. Douglas learned under Newsome in Baltimore; this piece is worth your time.

George Paton

Currently: Minnesota Vikings (Vice President of Player Personnel/Assistant General Manager)

Paton’s had the assistant general manager title with the Vikings since 2012. Prior, he’s spent time in high-ranking scouting capacities with both Chicago and Miami. He interviewed for two of the more coveted general manager openings with the 49ers and Colts. In years past, Paton has turned down requests almost annually. More notably, perhaps, was the Vikings denying the Packers’ request at an interview. Jason La Canfora reports that now, the time has come for Paton, and he’s ready to move out of the shadows in Minnesota. We can take the report and reporter for what it’s worth. The Vikings boast one of the more talented rosters in the league, hitting on several draft selections over recent years.

Scot McCloughan

Currently: Unemployed

I’ll keep this one brief, as many who have been following know my respect and borderline infatuation with McCloughan, who may be the sharpest and most consistent talent evaluator. There was a recent report that McCloughan may be connected to Gruden and the new opening for the Raiders (McCloughan’s brother works in the Raiders’ scouting department). Unfortunately, the dream was only alive for a few hours. Anyway, McCloughan is the name to know, and the one name who I’d truly be enamored with (all the names that preceded him are certainly solid hires in their own right, but I have McCloughan on a pedestal, right or wrong). Read this before you go, and you may quickly understand why:

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


4 thoughts on “2019 Offseason: Top 10 General Manager Candidates

    1. Unemployed by an NFL team. Scott currently has a consultation business. His firm was a consultant to the Browns last year. They had a good draft.

  1. Laughed at “RAIDERS P.S.A. JUST RELEASED:

    Dear Raider Nation,

    To those Raider fans across the world who are not doctors, lawyers, dotcom techies, real estate barons, inheritance babies, drug kingpins, or corporate CEO types, the Raiders front office leadership would like to thank you for all your support through the years. If not for your support, fandom, and hard earned money we would not be where we are now. To show our appreciation we are going to ensure you’re unable to attend any of our Las Vegas games by pricing you out. Our future plans no longer include you, so please consider this open letter our way of rolling you and yours up in toilet paper and wiping our *** with you.

    Yours truly,
    Mark Davis

    P.S. Please spend the peasant pennies you do have at http://www.raiders.com

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