Jeff Ireland has now booked two interviews during this extensive GM hiring period. Following his Panthers meeting, the Saints executive met with the Lions on Friday.
Best known for his time as Dolphins GM (2008-13), Ireland resurfaced with the Saints and helped the Mickey Loomis–Sean Payton regime reposition the team as the NFC South’s best after some mid-2010s defensive struggles. The Saints have won four straight division titles, doing so despite losing Drew Brees for extensive stretches in each of the past two years, and have some recent draft classes to thank for their consistency.
Ireland, 50, works as the Saints’ assistant GM and college scouting director. During his stay, the Saints drafted perennial Pro Bowlers Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore and several other impact starters. This has undoubtedly helped Ireland resurface on the GM interview circuit after his Dolphins teams slunk out of the playoff picture following a 2008 AFC East title. These Carolina and Detroit meetings are Ireland’s first known GM interviews since his Dolphins tenure ended.
The Lions have conducted a thorough GM search thus far. They have targeted a few former GMs — from Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons), Scott Pioli (Chiefs) and Rick Smith (Texans) — and expressed interest in poaching longtime Seahawks GM John Schneider. Here is how Detroit’s candidate list looks as of Friday afternoon:
- Thomas Dimitroff, former Falcons general manager: Interviewed
- Terry Fontenot, Saints assistant GM: Interviewed
- Brad Holmes, Rams director of college scouting: To be interviewed
- Rob Lohman, Lions director of pro scouting: Interviewed
- Lance Newmark, Lions director of player personnel: Interviewed
- Kyle O’Brien, Lions VP of player personnel: Interviewed
- George Paton, Vikings assistant GM: Interviewed
- Scott Pioli, former Chiefs GM/NFL Network analyst: Interviewed
- Louis Riddick, ESPN analyst/former Eagles exec: Interviewed
- John Schneider, Seahawks general manager: Rumored candidate
- Rick Smith, former Texans general manager: Interviewed
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.