Brian Stark

Latest On Broncos GM Search

It’s going to be a busy day for the Broncos, as’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the organization will be interviewing three general manager candidates on Saturday. The list of interviewees includes Patriots assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot, and Broncos director of college scouting Brian Stark.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard Ziegler connected to Denver’s GM vacancy. We learned earlier this week that the Broncos had requested an interview from New England, and the Patriots apparently consented (despite losing Monti Ossenfort last year and Nick Caserio this year). The 43-year-old Ziegler has risen from the scouting level to director of pro personnel to his current post. The Patriots promoted Ziegler to assistant player personnel director last year.

Promoted from Saints pro scouting director to assistant GM earlier this year, Fontenot has been with New Orleans for 16 years. The 40-year-old was connected to the Jets GM vacancy last offseason, and he’s emerged as a candidate for the Falcons, Lions, and Jaguars gigs in 2021.

Stark appears to be the top internal candidate for the opening. Stark is currently serving as Denver’s director of college scouting, with Mike Klis of 9News in Denver tweeting that the executive “is well-respected in NFL” and considered a “rising football exec” among Broncos brass. Prior to his stint in Denver, Stark served as an offensive coordinator at Yale University.

As our 2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker shows, this will increase Denver’s search to five candidates, as Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly and Vikings assistant GM George Paton have also been connected to the job. The Broncos are clearly evaluating all of their options as they search for a GM for the first time in 10 years. Earlier this month, John Elway gave up personnel control of the Broncos and moved to the role of President of Football Operations.

AFC Notes: Watson, Kizer, Jets, Broncos

After the Texans traded up in the first round of the draft to select ex-Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson 12th overall, head coach Bill O’Brien declared that veteran signal-caller Tom Savage would start Week 1. Like O’Brien, general manager Rick Smith regards Savage as the favorite to land the job, but the executive isn’t as ready to hand him the role. In an interview with ESPN Radio’s Stephen A. Smith on Thursday, Rick Smith indicated that Watson will have a chance to compete with Savage in the coming months, per Sarah Barshop of “We want to provide a competitive environment across the board. So [Watson will] compete,” Smith said. “[But] like I said, we feel good about Tom and his abilities to manage the offense. But yeah, [Watson] will come in, and just like every other guy on the roster, he’ll have time to play.”

More from the AFC:

  • As is the case with Houston, the Browns are prepared to let their rookie signal-caller compete for a starting job. In Cleveland’s case, it’s second-rounder DeShone Kizer, who will be part of “an open competition” that could also feature Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan, GM Sashi Brown said Thursday on ESPN’s Mike and Mike (via Nate Ulrich of Meanwhile, speaking with Cleveland Browns Daily, head coach Hue Jackson lavished praise on Kizer, a former Notre Dame star who went 52nd in the draft. “He has the characteristics that we as an organization covet. He’s a big man,” Jackson said of the 6-foot-4, 233-pounder. “He has the AFC North stature that I love. He has a big arm. He’s very intelligent. He’s played in a real big-time football program. He understands the demands of playing the position. He understands the demands of being a quarterback and the face of the franchise.”
  • Free agent quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson will attend the Jets‘ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, reports Rich Cimini of Bethel-Thompson, 28, is certainly familiar with the workout circuit, as he’s spent time with five NFL clubs and one team each in the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League, and United Football League. He also took part in the Spring League earlier this year. Bethel-Thompson’s last NFL stint came with the Eagles, with whom he earned two stints in 2016. For Gang Green, Bethel-Thompson likely only represents an offeason option, as the club already boasts signal-callers Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg.
  • The Broncos on Friday announced a restructuring of their front office under executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway. Director of pro personnel Tom Heckert has been promoted to senior personnel advisor, while A.J. Durso has been promoted to take Heckert’s previous post. Brian Stark, meanwhile, has been promoted from national scout to director of college scouting. Denver’s staff changes will help account for the loss of former scouting director Adam Peters, who left for a personnel role with the 49ers in January.

Zach Links contributed to this post.