So far, we’ve seen news regarding the Texans, Falcons and Lions as they take their first steps to fill GM vacancies. To date, we’ve heard:

  • The Lions will interview ESPN’s Louis Riddick and former Texans GM Rick Smith; Saints VP/Assistant GM for Player Personnel Terry Fontenot is also a candidate, as is former Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. The team has also eschewed hiring a search firm, instead establishing a blue-ribbon panel (Barry Sanders, anyone? Chris Spielman?) to assist in its search.
  • The Falcons have also interviewed Fontenot, and a report on the team’s website lists former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie (now with the Dolphins) and Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel Champ Kelly as candidates, though they haven’t been interviewed yet. Both make a lot of sense, McKenzie off his record in Oakland and Kelly as a fresh new candidate who narrowly missed out on the Jets GM job last year.
  • The Texans, who are using Korn Ferry to head their search (along with their own blue-ribbon panel), have interviewed Riddick, as well as former Chiefs GM John Dorsey, according to reports. 
  • So far, there hasn’t been a lot of coverage of the Jags’ GM search. That may be an indication that owner Shahid Khan will let the head coach determine who the GM is.

A few thoughts.

  • When I talk to my friends in the business who are scouts, it drives them crazy when people in broadcast booths get interviews before people working in the league. Riddick has an extensive executive background in the league, so I detect less rancor toward him. Others, however, are very controversial.
  • The modern model — as we’ve seen in San Francisco, Kansas City, Las Vegas and New York — dictates that the head coach determines who the GM is, not the other way around. It’s possible that the Falcons, Lions and/or Texans will go back to a more traditional model, but it seems unlikely, due to today’s coaching salaries. If that’s true, these interviews are just window dressing anyway.
  • Fontenot, Riddick and Smith are all on the controversial pipeline memo released by NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent two weeks ago. Obviously, the memo got the attention of search firms and owners. 
  • It’s not a popular position to hold, but Dorsey deserves another shot. He may be a little brusk, but he built the Chiefs and the Browns, two of the hotter teams in the AFC with the playoffs around the corner. Don’t like Dorsey? Hire his right-hand man, Seahawks executive Alonzo Highsmith, who truly deserves a shot. He’s paid his dues, he’s passionate about football, and he’s got an incredibly good eye for players and talent.
  • One more thing. The modern scouting department model requires less of college and area scouts; more and more these days, going on the road is more about gathering information than developing an opinion on players. That means, more than ever, it’s important to have an evaluator at the top of the pyramid. Teams that consider GMs without significant college experience are making a mistake, in my opinion.

As always, we’ll talk about the game behind the game — including the latest on scouts and executives as they get hired and fired — in our Friday Wrap. Register for it here.