Adam Peters

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Panthers Plan Second Interviews With Monti Ossenfort, Adam Peters

The Panthers continue to conduct an expansive general manager search. They are conducting second interviews with multiple candidates while also still meeting with execs for the first time.

On the second-interview front, Titans player personnel director Monti Ossenfort and 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters are the first two candidates set to meet with the Panthers again. Each is meeting with the Panthers for a second time, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who notes the team may opt to conduct more second interviews (Twitter link).

A former Broncos exec, Peters has been with the 49ers since 2017. Ossenfort was on GM radars previously as a Patriots staffer. He relocated to Tennessee just last year. Neither Ossenfort nor Peters has met with another team during this GM interview cycle. The Panthers expect to have a new GM this week.

Seemingly nearing the end of their first stage of interviews, the Panthers brought in Seahawks VP of football operations Scott Fitterer and Steelers VP of football and business administration Omar Khan this week. While Fitterer has been on the GM carousel for a few years now, joining fellow Seahawks exec Trent Kirchner in that regard, this marks his first interview in this cycle. The Seahawks promoted both in September.

Khan has not received as many interview summons in the past but was believed to be close to landing the Texans’ GM job. The search firm the Texans used recommended Khan, but owner Cal McNair — after some last-minute input from executive VP Jack Easterby — made longtime GM target Nick Caserio a big offer to leave New England. Caserio also interviewed with the Panthers.

Khan was believed to be negotiating a contract with the Texans when the Caserio news emerged. Khan has overseen Steelers contracts for years now, frequently creating cap space for a perennially cap-strapped franchise. David Tepper is familiar with Khan from his days as a part owner of the Steelers.

The Panthers have now interviewed a whopping 15 candidates, with two of those thus far receiving second summits. Caserio, Vikings GM George Paton and Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds are out of the mix. But many remain involved in Carolina’s latest GM search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Conduct Five GM Interviews

The Panthers’ GM interview list is up to 11. Executives from four teams interviewed for the position over the past two days, with two Chiefs staffers being summoned for meetings.

Chiefs football administration director Brandt Tilis and assistant player personnel director Ryan Poles interviewed for the vacant Panthers post, joining Bears assistant player personnel director Champ Kelly, Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds and 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters.

Kelly has popped up in the Broncos’ search as well. The Broncos requested an interview with their former staffer, who has been with the Bears since 2015. He has served in his current role for the past two years, previously operating as Chicago’s pro scouting director. Kelly interviewed for the Jets GM job in 2019.

With the Chiefs since 2010, Tilis has been a key cog in Chiefs contract matters. Considering the offseason the defending Super Bowl champions had on this front — extending Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Travis Kelce — and the franchise’s success in recent years, it makes sense a team is interested in Tilis. Poles, 35, has worked in his current position since May 2018. The Chiefs have seen multiple staffers — Chris Ballard and Brett Veach — move into GM roles in recent years, and Poles has been on GM radars for a bit now. The Panthers also have Chiefs player personnel director Mike Borgonzi on their radar.

Peters and Dodds have been with their respective teams for four years, each relocating in 2017 to join Ballard and John Lynch‘s respective staffs. Dodds has been in the GM mix for a bit now, most recently turning down a Browns interview request. For Peters, this is his first go-round of GM interviews. Peters and Matt Rhule have an interesting connection. During Rhule’s 2001 stopover at UCLA as the Bruins’ defensive line coach, Peters was on the roster as a defensive end.

Here are the rest the Panthers’ candidates thus far:

Broncos Shake Up Front Office, John Elway To Hire GM

Major shakeup out of Denver, as John Elway is giving up personnel control of the Broncos. In a surprising move, Elway will move to President of Football Operations, and will hire a GM who is in control of the roster, the team announced Monday.

As part of a transition I’ve thought about for a long time, I have made the decision to step up into an elevated role and hire a general manager to lead our personnel and football staff. While I’ll continue to be President of Football Operations in 2021, the GM will have final say on the draft, free agency and our roster. This person will be empowered to make all football decisions, working in partnership with Vic,” Elway said in a statement.

Under the new structure, both the new GM and Vic Fangio will report to Elway. Obviously the legendary former quarterback isn’t going anywhere, bu he is giving up a huge amount of power, and this feels like a way for the organization to bring in a new front office head without having to deal with the ordeal of firing Elway.

Elway took over in Denver in 2011, and obviously had quite a bit of success his first handful of years after luring Peyton Manning to the Broncos. That culminated in a win in Super Bowl 50, but things went downhill quickly after Manning and head coach Gary Kubiak retired.

The team has now endured four losing seasons in a row, and they have an unsettled quarterback situation with Drew Lock looking iffy his first two years in the league. Elway’s hire of Vance Joseph to replace Kubiak didn’t work out, and he’s drawn a lot of criticism for failing to stabilize things under center ever since Manning left. His one big swing in the draft, taking Paxton Lynch out of Memphis in the first-round, was an abject disaster.

There are now a whopping seven GM vacancies across the league. Elway’s top deputy has been Matt Russell, and he had an opportunity to interview for the GM job but declined and elected to retire, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Russell will stay on for the time being to help Elway with the GM search, Schefter says. Bears exec Champ Kelly, 49ers exec Adam Peters (who has been linked to several other openings), and Bucs exec John Spytek are all names to keep an eye on for this search, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says (Twitter video link). Spytek previously was a national scout under Elway in Denver, Peters was with the Broncos from 2009-16, and Kelly was with the organization from 2007-14.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

GM Interviews: Lions, Falcons, Panthers

It’s been a very busy Monday after Week 17 so far, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. There are a number of GM openings around the league, and interview requests for execs are flying in. Let’s get you caught up on all the latest:

  • Saints VP/assistant GM for pro personnel Terry Fontenot is scheduled to interview for the Lions GM job on Tuesday and the Falcons GM job on Wednesday, Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. The Falcons have also requested a GM interview with Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Along with Rick Smith, these were the top names expected to be in the mix in Atlanta. Fontenot isn’t the only Saints exec in the mix, as New Orleans assistant GM Jeff Ireland has been requested by the Panthers and Lions, Pelissero tweets.
  • Finally (for now), the Lions are also going to interview Vikings assistant GM George Paton, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet says both Paton and Fontenot are “very strong candidates” for the Detroit job. Paton has drawn interest before, and has been in Minnesota’s front office since the 2007 season.
  • The Panthers are casting a wide net, and they’re also requesting to interview Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles for the vacancy created by Marty Hurney’s firing, Rapoport tweets. One more, as Carolina has officially requested to interview 49ers VP of Player Personnel Adam Peters, Rapoport tweets. We had heard they might have some interest in Peters, and Rapoport notes that he spent time with head coach Matt Rhule at UCLA and is “one to watch” here.
  • The Falcons have requested Colts college scouting director Morocco Brown, Pelissero tweets. Indy’s GM Chris Ballard is very highly regarded, so it’s not surprising that teams are digging into some of his deputies. Brown previously had personnel roles with Cleveland (2014-15) and Washington (2008-13).

GM Notes: Texans, Saleh, Peters, Smith

The next several weeks will bring extensive news on the GM front, with four teams having fired their top front office executives this season. Other teams may create additional vacancies, and Washington remains in the mix to add a top decision-maker to its front office. Here is the latest from the GM circuit ahead of what will be an unusually busy marketplace:

  • Despite Texans owner Cal McNair declaring executive VP Jack Easterby will not rise to a GM role, the current Texans power broker is expected to have plenty of input as to which exec the franchise hires to replace Bill O’Brien, Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com note. Easterby has emerged as a key voice for a Texans franchise in transition, outlasting O’Brien in the Houston front office despite the lack of a personnel-related background.
  • Houston, however, remains high on New England exec Nick Caserio, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Should the Texans circle back to Easterby’s former Patriots coworker, it would continue an off-and-on two-year saga. The team tried to hire Caserio in 2019, but a unique clause in his Pats contract prevented a move. The long-coveted GM prospect is now on a new Patriots contract. However, the Giants — who also have a high-profile ex-Caserio coworker in power (Joe Judge) — have interest as well, should they fire Dave Gettleman.
  • Robert Saleh figures to receive consideration to be a head coach again, and early buzz has emerged he is interested in pairing with a familiar face if he lands a job. The 49ers defensive coordinator is interested in bringing the team’s vice president of player personnel — Adam Peters — with him to his next destination, according to Fowler and Graziano. The 49ers hired Peters in 2017, the same year they brought in Saleh, and he has helped the franchise rebuild from one of its lowest points.
  • Rick Smith is set to interview for the Falcons’ GM role, but La Canfora adds that the ex-Texans GM is expected to meet with at least one other GM-needy team. The Jaguars and Lions are the current teams in need — discounting what would seemingly be an untenable Texans reunion — though Smith was connected to Washington last year. Washington did not hire a GM but may look to do so in 2021. Smith served as Houston’s GM from 2006-17.
  • George Paton has been on the GM radar for years — most notably this year, when the Vikings assistant GM backed out of consideration for the Browns job — but has remained in Minnesota. If Paton is to leave a job he is clearly quite fond of, La Canfora notes it may have to be for a West Coast franchise. A UCLA alum, Paton was in contention for a 49ers GM job that went (out of nowhere) to John Lynch in 2017. That said, JLC speculates the Bears could be interested. It is not certain they will fire Ryan Pace, but this has certainly not been a good year for the exec that traded up for Mitchell Trubisky.

Browns To Interview Ed Dodds For GM Opening

We’ve got our first known candidate for the Browns’ general manager vacancy. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the organization has requested permission to interview Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds. Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets that the Colts have granted the Browns permission to interview the executive.

Perhaps even more notably, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that Browns head coaching candidate (and current 49ers defensive coordinator) Robert Saleh showed interest in being paired with Dodds in Cleveland. Saleh and Dodds both worked together during their stint in Seattle. Rapoport adds that

Dodds was considered one of the top scouts in the NFL during his 10 seasons in Seattle. During his time with the Seahawks, he served in a variety of roles, including senior personnel executive. Dodds joined the Colts back in 2017, and he was promoted to assistant GM the following year.

We heard earlier today that the organization was starting to ramp up their efforts to find a replacement for John Dorsey, who the team parted ways with in late December. While the order of operations may sound a bit weird, the Browns had always planned to complete their head coaching search before hiring a GM.

Dodds is the first known contender for the GM opening, and it sounds like the Browns organization has an affinity for former Seahawks executives. We previously heard that Seattle’s co-directors of player personnel, Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, are two well-respected executives who could emerge as leading candidates for the GM gig. Rapoport tweets that the duo could also be paired with Saleh, as could 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Jets’ GM Search Process

The Jets’ search for a new general manager will likely ramp up after the upcoming holiday weekend, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports indicates in a series of tweets. As the process unfolds, key questions could involve the potential return of Jets owner Woody Johnson (currently serving as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom) and the willingness of head coach Adam Gase to surrender control of the 53-man roster, per Robinson.

Johnson’s brother Christopher is currently running the Jets and made the decision to fire ex-GM Mike Maccagnan and install Gase in an acting personnel capacity. But prospective GM candidates are, perhaps rightly, concerned at the prospect of Woody Johnson returning to helm the franchise in the near future.

Eagles executive Joe Douglas is still Gase’s top choice for general manager, according to Robinson, but he’d probably be the No. 1 option for any number of GM openings. Douglas is expected to be choosy when it comes to his next opportunity, and Robinson invokes Colts GM Chris Ballard — who was picky before ending up in Indianapolis — as a comparison.

There are reportedly a number of candidates whom Gase would accept as GM, per Robinson, including the 49ers’ Adam Peters, the Bears’ Champ Kelly, and the Lions’ Lance Newmark. Additionally, Jets ownership is believed to “think highly” of Vikings exec George Paton. None of those names have been officially linked to the New York job as of yet.

AFC East Notes: Kraft, Jets, Dolphins

The Robert Kraft case took another turn a few days ago, when a judge ruled that video of the Patriots’ owner inside the spa cannot be used in court because it was obtained illegally, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This doesn’t mean Kraft is out of the woods yet, even though it does improve his legal standing. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets, Kraft can still be disciplined by the league under the personal conduct policy, even if he isn’t convicted of a crime. That being said, Volin wonders whether the league and fellow owners really want to punish Kraft.

To that end, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com took a look at where things will go from here, and previewed what is ahead. While noting it’s a “delicate issue,” Florio seems to think the Patriots boss has a decent chance of getting off with no punishment from Roger Goodell. Even if the league finds there is sufficient evidence that Kraft participated in solicitation, Florio writes that it “would be difficult to match the behavior to one of the 13 specific examples of prohibited conduct contained in the Personal Conduct Policy.” There will be backlash no matter what side of the fence Goodell comes down on, and it’ll be very interesting to see how he proceeds. We should have another update soon.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Jets have fired Mike Maccagnan and the search for his replacement is underway, with new head coach Adam Gase serving as the interim GM. Gase is widely believed to have won a power struggle, and it seems like he’s more or less in charge in New York. Acting owner and CEO Christopher Johnson will have final say, but the new GM will almost certainly be handpicked by Gase. We’ve already heard a few names the Jets are interested in, and now we have another. 49ers VP of Player Personnel Adam Peters is a name to keep an eye on in the Jets‘ GM search, Manish Mehta of the Daily News tweets. Peters was an exec with the Broncos at the same time Gase was there as the OC, so there’s some familiarity there.
  • The Patriots added to their crowded receiving room last week by signing Dontrelle Inman, and now we have the details on his pact. It’s a one-year deal with a “$200K signing bonus, $100k of his base salary guaranteed, $300k in roster bonuses, and a $100k reporting bonus, in addition to incentives up to $1m,” according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). That’s a significant amount of guarantees, and Reiss writes that it “reflects how he had other suitors” and that “this isn’t a minimum-level deal.” It sounds like the Pats could be counting on Inman to play a significant role in 2019.
  • Safety Reshad Jones continued to stay away from the Dolphins during the voluntary portion of their offseason program, but the team expects to have him for mandatory minicamp next month, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jones had a falling out with the team last season, and it’s been rumored Miami plans on shopping him. Jones is due more than $13MM in guaranteed salary, so he isn’t going to be released. Jones, a Pro Bowler as recently as 2017, is also coming off shoulder surgery.

West Rumors: Raiders, 49ers, Ansah

Despite the Raiders parting ways with Reggie McKenzie late last year, his twin brother remained a scout through this draft. But Raleigh McKenzie will be one of the scouts sent home pre-draft that will not return. Raleigh McKenzie’s contract is up, and he confirmed to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal he will not be retained. The 56-year-old area scout in charge of the northeast had worked with the Raiders since Reggie McKenzie’s 2012 hire and said he viewed his exit as a “strong possibility” after his brother was let go, per Gehlken. Reggie McKenzie resurfaced in Miami. That would obviously be a logical landing spot for Raleigh.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch regime exited their third draft together, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes the 49ers‘ top two decision-makers may not be in lockstep. Shanahan would prefer to focus on developing players and scheming, but scouting and coaching sources told Miller the third-year HC has grown skeptical of Lynch’s decision-making on the personnel side. When asked about the report Tuesday, Shanahan (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area) called it “complete bulls***.” But if there is more to this situation, Miller writes it would likely be Shanahan staying in place and then looking for a new GM/personnel chief after the departures of Lynch and player personnel VP Adam Peters.
  • Ziggy Ansah visited a fourth team this week, with the suddenly edge rusher-needy Seahawks taking a look at the former Lions sack artist. But as could be expected, a signing will have to wait a week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link). Teams are not expected to sign the former Pro Bowl defensive end until after May 8, when free agents no longer count against the compensatory pick formula. Ansah joins the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Eric Berry, Michael Crabtree, Jamie Collins, Muhammad Wilkerson and other veterans in this boat. Next week figures to reignite free agency, to a degree, for teams looking to fill specific post-draft needs.
  • The Raiders have added so many new wide receivers they might not all make the team. Slotting Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant and Dwayne Harris as locks to make the roster, along with Hunter Renfrow‘s probably spot, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area lists J.J. Nelson as a bubble player. A intriguing deep threat during Bruce Arians‘ run, the diminutive Nelson fell off the grid last season (seven receptions in 14 games). Harris is five years older than Nelson and has been mostly a return-only presence the past three years. He received a one-year, $1.6MM contract with $275K guaranteed; Nelson, 27, signed a one-year, $1MM deal with $75K guaranteed.