As you know, serving the NFL scouting industry is something we take seriously at ITL. This time of year, there’s a lot of change, and though informing the Twitterverse of job changes gets us a lot of exposure, it’s not something we take any joy in. When a scout is dismissed, it’s hard on not just the scout, but his family, as well.

This year, we don’t see as many changes coming. Why is that? There are a few reasons.

  • In the 2020 offseason of Covid, teams pretty much froze their hiring and firing. Scouts, who normally have two-year deals, were either extended for a year or allowed to play out their contracts if they had a year left. Some were even extended two more years. That means that the last two years, many teams were clearing their decks of evaluators they may have released sooner. Last year, we saw a record amount of hiring and firing, at least since we started tracking scout employment in 2012. We counted just under 300 moves, whereas a standard, pre-Covid offseason is around 135-140. That means a lot of evaluators are pretty much in the clear until next year.
  • There’s a kind of ‘spoils system’ when it comes to scouting hires. A new GM wants to bring in people he’s worked with before so the new staff can hit the ground running. Truth be told, there’s a loyalty element to that, as well, but that’s to be expected. At any rate, when there’s a new sheriff in town, there tends to be a ripple effect on the scouting staff. However, this offseason, we didn’t see as many heads rolling in the front office, so there are fewer scouts expected to be displaced.
  • What’s more, the teams that did make GM changes (Arizona and Tennessee) are known as two of the more cost-conscious teams in the league. They’re less likely to want to dismiss scouts who are still under contract. 
  • We’re seeing expansion of scouting departments, but most of it is taking place at the executive level. Over the past two years, we’ve seen growth in the number of teams that have assistant GMs, senior personnel executives and national scouts. Much of this growth has taken place from outside scouting departments, i.e., a GM gets let go somewhere else and comes in as a team’s senior personnel executive. That doesn’t affect the number of road scouts. The only area where we’re seeing low-level scout numbers change is on teams that still have only one national scout (or, in some cases, just two). The Giants, for example, went to three national scouts, promoting Marcus Cooper. That’s just not happening frequently enough to have a big impact for scouts at the lower levels. For example, though the Southeast is vast and deep with talented schools, we’re not seeing co-Southeast scouts named for teams.

We’ll run down all the changes we’ve seen so far in Week 1 of Scout Hiring/Firing Season in this week’s Friday Wrap, which comes out at 7:30 p.m. ET every week. If scouting interests you, make sure to register for it here.