After dismissals in Jacksonville and Detroit last weekend, there are four GM chairs open as we head down the season’s stretch run. And while today’s GMs are more likely to be beholden to the head coach than in previous eras, they’ll still have plenty of weight when it comes to building out the scouting staff.
Today, I took a look at each of the teams who’ll hire GMs this offseason and tried to answer the question, what, if any, changes will be made to the team’s staff? Obviously, a new GM will bring in his confidantes, but will each team see a house-cleaning, Bills-style? Here’s a look at what I see (I’ve included ITL’s most recent Know Your Scouts breakdown of each team; sorry, each one is a pay link, but you can subscribe here).
Detroit: When we broke down each NFL scouting department by years of experience in August, the Lions came out on top with an aggregate of 268 years in the business. What’s more, the team has 18 scouts who’ve been with the team since at least 2016. Many teams don’t even have 18 scouts. In addition, the team is a little top-heavy with a V.P. of Player Personnel, a Director of Player Personnel and a Senior Personnel Executive. That’s a lot of salary to carry given the results. What does it all mean?: Whoever comes in as the next GM will likely heavily retool things.
Atlanta: With two ex-GMs as national scouts, the Falcons are another team that has made a big commitment to its scouting staff financially. On the other hand, the team has done a good job of integrating its staff with younger blood with three area scouts having less than three years in the league (this also balances the ledger a bit financially). As much as almost any other team, the staff is well-versed in “the Falcon way;” of 16 scouts and evaluators on staff below the GM level, nine have never scouted for any other teams. What does it all mean?: Whoever comes in will probably have to adapt, at least in the short term, rather than turning over the whole staff.
Jacksonville: Depending on how successful a team has been, stability could be good or bad. Jags owner Shahid Khan is known as one of the most patient owners in the league, and it shows up on the staff with 11 of 13 staff members having been there five years or more. They don’t get much credit for it, but the staff in place built a team that just three years ago went to the AFC Championship Game with former draftees including Ramsey, Ngakoue and Jack (while the pro side fortified things with Bouye, Campbell and Posluszny). What does it all mean?: This staff probably needs tweaking rather than overhauling.
Houston: We won’t waste space describing the draft capital Bill O’Brien spent desperately trying to get to a Super Bowl the last few years except to say that the team doesn’t have a lot of picks in 2021. But that’s OK, because the team in place (fashioned by former GM Brian Gaine) is a good one. It’s not too heavy at the top and has several highly regarded future GMs already on staff, with a good mix of old and new. It also contains scouts from diverse backgrounds; it’s heavily flavored with evaluators from playoff-bound teams this year (Steelers, Cardinals, Bucs, Seahawks, Colts, Saints). What does it all mean?: It would be a surprise to see wholesale changes.
We’ll discuss all of this in greater depth in today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out at 7:30 p.m. EDT. I hope you can join us.