Champ Kelly

Poll: Who Should Jets Hire As GM?

It’s been 10 days since the Jets suddenly fired general manager Mike Maccagnan, leaving a major hole atop their front office. Yesterday, we finally got some clarity on definitive candidates, as the organization requested interviews with Eagles executive Joe Douglas and Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly.

Following reports of tension between Maccagnan and head coach Adam Gase, Kelly would seemingly be a good choice. The two have a history that dates back to their tenures with the Broncos, with Denver earning four division titles during Kelly’s five seasons as Assistant Director of Pro Personnel. Kelly also played a role in signing eight veteran free agents who would go on to earn Pro Bowl nods with the Broncos.

The executive has spent the past four years with the Bears, including the last two as the team’s Assistant Director of Player Personnel. In this role, Kelly has directed both Chicago’s pro personnel and college scouting departments. Kelly was one of the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended GM candidates this offseason, but he didn’t get an interview in the thick of the cycle.

Despite Gase’s connection to Kelly, Douglas is reportedly his top choice for the position. Douglas spent the past three seasons as the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, and he played a major role in constructing the Super Bowl LII-winning roster. Douglas had a brief stint with the Bears in 2015 after having spent the previous 16 years with the Ravens. Douglas is expected to be choosy when it comes to his next opportunity. Many pundits are questioning the Jets’ power structure given the timing and nature of Maccagnan’s firing, so it’s uncertain if Douglas would be willing to take on the challenge.

Besides Kelly and Douglas, the Jets have also been connected to Peyton Manning. Following Maccagnan’s firing, there were rumblings that the Jets were eyeing the future Hall of Fame quarterback for the open GM gig. However, subsequent reports have indicated that the notion of Manning becoming the Jets’ GM is “unrealistic,” with a source stating that being an NFL GM is “not a job he seems to want.”

Of course, there’s also Gase, who earned the interim GM tag following Maccagnan’s ouster. The head coach has been relatively busy since taking on the job; he’s moved on from a pair of former draft picks (tight end Jordan Leggett and linebacker Darron Lee), and he’s added wideout Deonte Thompson. There were reports that Gase was opposed to Le’Veon Bell‘s lucrative contract, and the organization’s apparent trust in their head coach indicates that he’ll surely have a say in future transactions (assuming he doesn’t maintain the GM role).

There are a number of additional candidates who could emerge in the coming days. We learned earlier this week that Gase would be receptive to a number of GM hires, including the 49ers’ Adam Peters and the Lions’ Lance Newmark. Additionally, Jets ownership is believed to “think highly” of Vikings exec George Paton.

So that brings us to today’s question: who should Christoper Johnson hire as the team’s next GM? Should they bring on Douglas, Kelly, or another executive from outside the organization? Should they take a flyer on Manning, who has no front office experience? Should they allow Gase to maintain control over the 53-man roster?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Request Interviews With Douglas, Kelly

The Jets have requested interviews with Eagles executive Joe Douglas and Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly for their GM vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Douglas was immediately connected to the Jets job after Maccagnan’s firing and Kelly name emerged hours later.

[RELATED: Jets Won’t Try To Trade Le’Veon Bell]

Kelly has history with head coach Adam Gase dating back to their time with Denver. For the last two seasons, he’s served as a top official with the Bears. Kelly was one of the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended GM candidates this offseason, but did not get an interview in the thick of the cycle.

Douglas, meanwhile, is said to be Gase’s top choice for the role. Still, Douglas is expected to be choosy when it comes to his next opportunity and many in the football world are questioning the Jets’ power structure given the timing and nature of Maccagnan’s firing.

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.

Latest On Jets’ GM Search

The Jets have their eyes on Eagles executive Joe Douglas for their GM vacancy, and head coach/interim GM Adam Gase is reportedly staring in his direction as well. But, the Jets will also consider other candidates, including Bears assistant director of personnel Champ Kelly and Lions director of player personnel Lance Newmark (Twitter link via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com).

Whoever the new GM is, he’ll report directly to owner/CEO Christopher Johnson. Meanwhile, Gase will maintain control over the 53-man roster, which could prove to be a sticking point for top candidates. The Jets are loaded with young talent thanks to multiple losing seasons, but any exec that takes the job will have to wrestle with Gase when it comes to player acquisitions. After Gase toppled Maccagnan and ran him out of New York, it’s hard to see an established front office man jumping at Gang Green’s vacancy.

Meanwhile, Gase wasted little time in starting his GM duties. On Wednesday night, he shipped linebacker Darron Lee – a former first-round pick – to the Chiefs for a sixth-round choice.

Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends GM Candidates

The Fritz Pollard Alliance has released its annual list of minority candidates for general manager vacancies. Much like the latest batch of recommended coaching hires, the suggested GM list is more than twice as long as last year’s. 

[RELATED: Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends Head Coaching Candidates]

Here’s the full rundown, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link):

  • Ray Agnew (Rams)
  • Joey Clinkscales (Raiders)
  • Quentin Harris (Cardinals)
  • Alonzo Highsmith (Browns)
  • Brad Holmes (Rams)
  • Champ Kelly (Bears)
  • Martin Mayhew (49ers, ex-Lions GM)
  • Will McClay (Cowboys)
  • Jimmy Raye III (Lions)
  • Jerry Reese (ex-Giants GM)
  • Doug Whaley (ex-Bills GM)
  • Doug Williams (Redskins)

 

Clinkscales, Highsmith, McClay, and Williams were all featured on last year’s list, but none of those executives landed GM jobs. The only executive from the last round of recommendations who did not carry over to this year was Ray Farmer, the former Browns GM who is currently serving as a senior consultant with the Rams.

Of the dozen suggested executives on this list, only three sat for GM interviews in the last cycle: Mayhew (Panthers), Raye (Texans), and Whaley (Packers). McClay was asked to interview for the Texans opening, but declined the opportunity and instead signed a two-year extension to stay with the Cowboys. McClay may garner consideration again this time around, but he might not be interested in leaving Dallas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: OBJ, Elliott, Seahawks, Bears

We learned earlier this week that the Giants weren’t prioritizing a contract extension with star wideout Odell Beckham Jr., and that could be because the Pro Bowler is seeking a record-breaking deal. The 24-year-old said on Thursday that he was aiming to become the league’s highest-paid receiver, and he elaborated on those remarks on Friday.

“That’s what you want to do, you want to change the game,’’ Beckham told Paul Schwartz of The New York Post. “This is not just for Odell Beckham, this is for everybody in the league, people who deserve it.

“You sit there and you watch the NBA, it’s crazy. Being realistic, it’s crazy what they’re getting. And there’s people in the NFL who deserve that, I want to do, if I can, be on the forefront for it and help push the league, the game that way, because I feel like the fans deserve it, I feel like we go through a lot, we put ourselves through a lot. They just deserve it. It’s not for me.’’

As our own Connor Byrne noted earlier this week, the top-paid honor usually belongs to quarterbacks, with Raiders signal-caller Derek Carr currently holding the distinction. Steelers wideout Antonio Brown‘s $17MM annual salary is the highest value at his position. Beckham is set to play the upcoming season on a $1.8MM salary, although the organization did pick up his $8.5MM fifth-year option for 2018.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Although Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said an NFL decision on running back Ezekiel Elliott could be handed down “imminently,” no announcement is expected today nor this weekend, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The league is reportedly wrapping up its investigation into domestic violence allegations against Elliott, and while Jones claimed his own review of the evidence indicated Elliott had done nothing wrong, a short suspension is still expected. If Elliott is banned, Dallas will turn to a cadre of Darren McFaddenAlfred Morris, and the newly-signed Ronnie Hillman in the backfield.
  • Former offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre will be joining the Seahawks coaching staff as an offensive assistant, according to Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com. The 2011 undrafted free agent out of South Carolina spent six seasons in Seattle, appearing in 63 games (11 starts). The 30-year-old also appeared in nine postseason games, and he earned a ring after the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII.
  • The Bears have promoted former Pro Scouting Direction Champ Kelly to Assistant Director of Player Personnel, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). According to the reporter, the Dolphins tried to “lure away” Kelly this past offseason, but Chicago clearly had bigger plans for the executive. The former United Indoor Football general manager has been with the Bears organization since 2015, and he previously spent time as the Broncos’ Assistant Director of Pro Personnel.
  • Biggs passes along (on Twitter) that the Bears have also promoted several other members of their scouting team. Chris White is now one of the team’s pro scouts, while Scott Hamel and Brendan Rehor have been promoted to area scout and combine scout, respectively.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.