Champ Kelly

2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

Along with the head coaches being fired, a few NFL teams are looking for new general managers. Listed below are the GM candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status.

If and when other teams decide to make GM changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-22 (11:00pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Raiders To Interview Champ Kelly

The Raiders are set to interview Champ Kelly for their GM vacancy on Thursday (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The Bears’ assistant director of player personnel joins Bengals scout Trey Brown, Colts vice president of player personnel Ed Dodds, and Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler on Las Vegas’ interview list.

[RELATED: Raiders Request GM Interview With Bengals’ Trey Brown]

Kelly began his career with the Broncos and has been with the Bears since 2015, the start of Ryan Pace‘s tenure as GM. The Bears have since parted ways with Pace, but they still held Kelly in high regard, interviewing him for their own vacancy last week. The Broncos and Panthers also looked at Kelly last year, before before hiring George Paton and Scott Fitterer, respectively. And, in 2019, the Jets met with Kelly before going with Joe Douglas.

Ziegler, meanwhile, is set to interview on Friday. His CV includes nine years with the Pats plus time with the Broncos.

Bears Request To Interview Chargers’ Wooden

Do not be surprised if you start getting calls from Chicago because the Bears are searching far and wide to fill their vacant general manager position and they are interviewing EVERYBODY! The newest candidate to add to the list is Chargers’ director of player personnel, JoJo Wooden, according to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Wooden has been with the Chargers since 2013 overseeing the pro and college scouting department for the Chargers. He got his start with the Jets in 1997 and spent 10 seasons working his way up from pro personnel assistant to the assistant director, player personnel, a position he held for six more years.

What makes Wooden an interesting candidate for the Bears’ job is the connections he has to the search committee. Bears Senior Writer Larry Mayer reported a couple days ago that Bill Polian, who has spent time as a general manager for the Bills, Panthers, and, most notably, the Colts, will be a resource to the Bears as they go through the process of hiring a new head coach and general manager. Wooden is known as a key lieutenant for the Chargers’ current general manager Tom Telesco, and Telesco worked under Polian during Polian’s entire tenure in Indianapolis.

To date, the Bears have already interviewed the Browns’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Glenn Cook and their own assistant director of player personnel, Champ Kelly. They’ve also requested interviews with the Colts’ Morocco Brown and Ed Dodds, the 49ers’ Ran Carthon, the Saints’ Jeff Ireland, the Steelers’ Omar Khan, the Giants’ Joe Schoen, and the Patriots’ Eliot Wolf. Texans’ former general manager Rick Smith has also been identified as a candidate.

Bears Interview Champ Kelly For GM Role; Team Interested In Rick Smith?

Comprised entirely of outside candidates previously, the Bears’ GM interview list now includes one of their own staffers. The Bears interviewed assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly for their GM job Thursday.

Brought in at the start of Ryan Pace‘s GM tenure, Kelly has been with the Bears since 2015. The veteran staffer began as the team’s pro scouting director and has served in his current role since 2017. The Bears promoting a Pace lieutenant would surprise, but Kelly has drawn extensive interest from outside the organization.

The Broncos and Panthers interviewed Kelly for their GM job last year, before respectively hiring George Paton and Scott Fitterer. In 2019, the Jets brought in Kelly for an interview ahead of their Joe Douglas hire. Kelly spent eight years in Denver prior to coming to Chicago. The Bears also completed their interview with Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah on Thursday.

The Bears may also have a higher-profile candidate on the radar. Not yet on the team’s interview list, former Texans GM Rick Smith is expected to draw interest from the Bears, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Smith has not held an NFL role since stepping away from his longtime post as Texans GM after the 2017 season.

Although Smith has not landed on any interview lists during this cycle, he was popular on the 2021 circuit. The Jaguars and Lions met with the 12-year Texans GM, and Washington’s 2020 interview with Smith nearly led to a hire. Smith was in place as GM for the first four playoff berths in Texans history, having drafted the likes of J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins. Smith’s final draft involved the team’s trade-up for Deshaun Watson.

Here is how the Bears’ GM field looks as of Thursday afternoon:

  • Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, vice president of football operations (Browns): Interviewed 1/13
  • Morocco Brown, director of college scouting (Colts): Interview requested
  • Ran Carthon, director of player personnel (49ers): Interview requested
  • Glenn Cook, vice president of player personnel (Browns): Interviewed 1/12
  • Ed Dodds, vice president of player personnel (Colts): Interview requested
  • Jeff Ireland, assistant general manager (Saints): Interview requested
  • Champ Kelly, assistant director of player personnel (Bears): Interviewed 1/13
  • Omar Khan, vice president of football and business administration: Interview requested
  • Joe Schoen, assistant general manager (Giants): Interview requested
  • Rick Smith, former general manager (Texans): Mentioned as candidate
  • Eliot Wolf, senior consultant (Patriots): Interview requested

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

George Paton Withdraws From Panthers GM Search, To Meet With Broncos

George Paton will honor the Broncos’ interview request but will bow out of what has become a wide-ranging Panthers GM search.

The Panthers were interested in the Vikings’ assistant GM, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes (on Twitter) Paton will not pursue that job. This is certainly not unusual for Paton, who has been selective in recent years.

In this Minnesota role for over a decade, Paton most recently withdrew from the Browns GM search. He was viewed as the frontrunner for that post, which would have entailed working alongside longtime Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski. Paton has interviewed for other GM jobs in recent years and will meet with the Lions. Paton’s Broncos interview will occur Friday, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

While Paton is in the mix for the Denver GM job, a clearer Detroit path may be emerging. Recent Lions front office hire Chris Spielman, who is assisting with the franchise’s GM search, received a strong recommendation on Paton from his brother, Vikings GM Rick Spielman. This is not exactly surprising, with Rick Spielman and Paton having worked together in multiple cities for the much of the past two decades.

The Broncos are searching for a GM for the first time in 10 years. John Elway‘s decision to step away from the personnel side has led to multiple ex-Broncos staffers being rumored as replacements. Denver submitted interview requests for Bears exec Champ Kelly and Patriots staffer Dave Ziegler. Kelly will join Paton in interviewing for the Denver GM job Friday, Breer adds. 49ers player personnel VP Adam Peters is also a rumored target. Paton’s background differs from the other candidates, having not worked with the Broncos previously.

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:

GM Notes: Colts, Ballard, Jets, Douglas, Broncos, Kelly, Texans, Khan, Jaguars, Fontenot

We’ve been passing along a ton of notes on GM interviews and searches, so we thought we’d switch things up a little bit with a couple of non-vacancy related GM items. First off, Colts GM Chris Ballard has done a great job leading Indy through some bumpy times, and it sounds like he’s about to be rewarded. The Colts intend on extending his contract, which runs through May of 2022, before training camp starts in July, owner Jim Irsay told Zak Keefer of The Athletic. Head coach Frank Reich is under contract longer so his situation isn’t as pressing, but Irsay also told Keefer that Reich isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which obviously isn’t surprising.

Even after Josh McDaniels famously backed out of taking the head coaching job at the last minute, and even after Andrew Luck retired right before the start of last season, Ballard has done a commendable job keeping things steady and under control. He’s also made some great middle round draft picks, his blockbuster trade for DeForest Buckner has worked out really well, and his bold move to sign Philip Rivers this offseason resulted in an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. The Colts have a few question marks, but things seem well set up for the future, and Ballard will be the architect for a long time it sounds like.

Here’s more from front offices around the league:

  • The Jets fired Adam Gase this week, and when they hire a new head coach, there could be a change in the hierarchy to go with it. Recently Jets coaches and GMs have both reported directly to owners/chairman Woody and Christopher Johnson, which has led to a fair bit of drama and chaos. Now with Joe Douglas as GM, that might no longer be the case. Christopher raved about Douglas during his end of year media availability, and said “a change in structure is under consideration, no question,” meaning the new head coach may work under Douglas and report to him, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY tweets. It looks like Douglas is cementing his grip on power in the building this offseason, and the new head coach might not have as much clout within the building as guys like Gase, Todd Bowles, and Rex Ryan did.
  • Ok, now back to interviews. As soon as the Broncos announced their major shakeup yesterday with John Elway hiring a GM and giving up roster control, people highlighted Champ Kelly as a name to watch. Kelly, currently an exec with the Bears, was in Denver from 2007-14. Now the interest is official, as the team has requested an interview with him, Mike Klis of Denver 9 News tweets. It’s early in the process, but by all accounts Kelly is one of the favorites for the job. The most interesting thing to come out of this search though might be the dynamic between the new GM and Elway, who will still be lingering over the whole operation as president of football ops. It has the potential to get messy.
  • The Texans continued their search as they start from scratch in the post-Bill O’Brien era, interviewing Steelers exec Omar Khan on Monday. Khan has been in Pittsburgh in various roles since all the way back in 2001, and currently serves as their chief contract negotiator. He’s received a bit of GM buzz in the past, but not a ton.
  • Meanwhile, the Jaguars have requested to interview Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. We’ve already heard that Fontenot will interview with the Lions and Falcons, so he appears to be a hot candidate this time around. We heard yesterday that Fontenot is a “very strong” candidate for the Detroit job.

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.

Champ Kelly To Stay With Bears

On Wednesday, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly announced that he’ll be staying in Chicago. Kelly previously interviewed for the Jets’ GM job that ultimately went to Joe Douglas and there was talk that he still might join Gang Green’s front office.

[RELATED: Josh McCown Retires From NFL]

“I’m blessed and grateful to continue the pursuit of the Super Bowl trophy with the most storied franchise in NFL history,” Kelly tweeted.

Kelly joined the Bears in 2015 after spending eight years with the Broncos. He’ll return for a fifth season in Chicago while the Jets will move ahead with Phil Savage, Rex Hogan, and Chad Alexander as the new lieutenants under Douglas.