Ed Dodds

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

Latest On Lions GM Search

Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes is in Detroit for a second interview, which will occur Tuesday. He is the first such GM candidate to meet with the Lions a second time during this cycle. He may not be the only exec the Lions meet with twice.

The Lions want to bring Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Saints execs Jeff Ireland and Terry Fontenot back for second meetings, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Detroit also added Indianapolis assistant GM Ed Dodds to its interview list, meeting with him Tuesday. The Lions were evidently impressed, with Breer noting they would like to speak with Dodds again.

Dodds recently bowed out of the wide-ranging Panthers GM search, leaving only the Lions pursuing him. The former Seahawks exec may be connected to another ex-Seattle staffer. The Lions have been connected to 49ers DC Robert Saleh about their HC vacancy for weeks, and the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers notes some believe Dodds would want to bring Saleh with him to Detroit (Twitter link). Saleh and Dodds were both with the Seahawks from 2011-13, though Saleh was only a defensive quality control coach at that point.

A Michigan native, Saleh interviewed for the Lions job last week but remains in the mix for other gigs — a list that now includes Philadelphia. Saleh has also been connected to an Adam Peters HC-GM pairing, but Peters is not a Lions GM candidate.

Paton and Fontenot remain in the mix for the Broncos GM post, having booked second interviews with Denver. While the longtime Vikings exec has been quite particular in past GM searches, he has remained a sought-after candidate. Fontenot, who interviewed for the Jets’ GM job in 2019, and Ireland — the former Dolphins GM — each went through virtual interviews for the Detroit job last week. Holmes is a Falcons finalist as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

GM Notes: Colbert, Patriots, Panthers, Rhule, Bears, Pace

We brought you a new batch of coaching notes earlier, and now we’ve got a new collection of front office bullets to pass along as the Browns and Steelers wrap up wild card weekend:

  • Let’s start with the Steelers, who could be in danger of losing their GM this offseason. We heard last week that the Lions were going to pursue Kevin Colbert, and Jason La Canfora tweets their interest in making that happen is still “very real.” While La Canfora’s sources don’t think Colbert would actually make the jump, he says the Lions “continue to gather info and strategize on how to possibly lure him.” Colbert, in the midst of his 21st season in Pittsburgh, has also flirted with retirement recently. Perhaps a first-round exit at the hands of the Browns could convince him to jump ship?
  • The Patriots just lost one key exec when Nick Caserio got hired by the Texans, and fortunately for them it doesn’t look like they’ll lose another. Dave Ziegler has pulled himself out of contention for the Broncos’ GM job, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet writes that the “organization has committed to Ziegler’s future, and Ziegler has committed to” New England, so it sounds like the Pats gave him an extension and/or raise to stay.
  • There was another big withdrawal on Sunday, as Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds removed himself from the Panthers’ search, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. He had interviewed for the job last week. Dodds declined an interview request from the Browns back in January, so he appears to be waiting for the right opportunity to leave Indy.
  • Meanwhile as the Panthers’ search chugs along, they’ll take a look at a couple of internal candidates. Carolina will interview Director of Player Negotiations & Salary Cap Manager Samir Suleiman and Director of Player Personnel Pat Stewart for their GM vacancy (Twitter link via Joe Person of The Athletic). The Panthers are conducting an exhaustive search, so it’s possible these are just courtesy interviews.
  • One last note on the Panthers for now. No matter who they hire, it looks like it may be Matt Rhule who’s in charge at the end of the day. “Rhule will essentially be running the show in Carolina,” after they replace the fired Marty Hurney, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. That’s not all that surprising after owner David Tepper paid him a fortune to lure him from Baylor and Rhule earned strong marks for his first season with the Panthers, getting a bare-bones roster to fight hard and play a bunch of close games against good teams. Florio writes that whoever gets the gig “surely won’t get the job without Rhule’s agreement.” Rhule seems like a strong coach, but obviously these kind of arrangements can get dangerous, as we’ve seen with the Texans and Bill O’Brien.
  • Matt Nagy is going to be back with the Bears in 2021, but GM Ryan Pace’s future apparently isn’t entirely secure. Chicago could target Chiefs exec Mike Borgonzi this offseason, multiple sources told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. As Biggs points out, it would make sense for them to bring in someone familiar with Nagy if they’re going to change GMs but not coaches. Nagy, of course, coached in Kansas City under Andy Reid for a while. The Bears’ blowout loss to the Saints today certainly isn’t working in Pace’s favor, and the drafting of Mitchell Trubisky second overall never worked out. This will be an interesting situation to monitor this week.

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:

Panthers To Meet With Ex-Giants GM Jerry Reese

The Panthers are interviewing former Giants GM Jerry Reese for their vacancy, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, they’ve also requested an interview with Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter) hears.

Reese was fired by the Giants towards the end of the 2017 season, leaving the Meadowlands with a pair of Super Bowl rings. On the flipside, the Giants went just 91-85 in Reese’s decade-long tenure as GM.

His recent meeting with the Jaguars marked his first interview since then, but he’s been on the GM radar over the last few years. Reese declined to interview for the Raiders’ GM job in 2018, and last year there was “heavy support” for him to return to the NFL. The Lions may also give him consideration in their current search.

Reese and Dodds join a growing list of GM candidates in Carolina. The Panthers are also seeking interviews with Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio (if they can keep him away from the Texans), Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters, Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, and Browns VP of football ops Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ed Dodds Declines Browns Interview

Over the weekend, the Browns requested an interview with Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, making him the first known candidate in their GM search. However, Dodds has declined the invite, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

Dodds, Pelissero hears, feels there is unfinished business in Indy. Speculatively, one has to wonder if he might also have some reservations about the power structure in Cleveland. The Browns fired Freddie Kitchens after one (disappointing) season at the helm and parted ways with GM John Dorsey despite some savvy moves on Dorsey’s part to restock the roster.

The new structure will see new head coach Kevin Stefanski and the GM TBD each report directly to Haslam. Meanwhile, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta is expected to carry significant influence in the front office.

Eagles exec and old friend Andrew Berry is also in the mix for the GM job and could be the favorite to land it.

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.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

Having ended their veteran quarterback search with a Ryan Fitzpatrick agreement, after pursuing Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor, the Dolphins continue to embark on a rebuilding track. In fact, the word “tanking” came up during one of the team’s head coach interviews, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Chris Grier, as could be expected, denied the team will use 2019 to tank.

Often one of the most active teams during free agency, the Dolphins this year have parted ways with starters Ryan Tannehill, Josh Sitton, Ted Larsen, Andre Branch and Danny Amendola. They let Ja’Wuan James and Cameron Wake walk. This leads Salguero to the notion the Dolphins are indeed tanking with the prospect of being in best position to land a high 2020 draft pick and have cap space when that league year begins. As of now, early projections have the Dolphins at $107MM in 2020 cap space — second in the league behind the Cowboys. And with Dallas set to extend several young talents, Miami looks poised to lead that pack. Fitzpatrick has made at least eight starts in a season nine times; his teams finished with a winning record in one of those seasons. Sunday’s move lends further credence the Dolphins are targeting the 2020 quarterback class.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Rob Gronkowski has not given the Patriots his decision on if he will continue his career in 2019, but if the future Hall of Famer wants an extension, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes this cannot happen until August 30 — a year after his previous contract adjustment, per an NFL rule. Long dissatisfied with a contract he agreed to in 2012, Gronkowski would be entering the final year of that deal if he returned for 2019. The Patriots could approach Gronk about a pay cut, however, at any point this offseason, per Volin. Gronkowski is due a $10MM salary and to count $11.86MM on the Patriots’ cap. The latest word on Gronk’s status is a return for a 10th season is more likely than a retirement.
  • Conversely, a Tom Brady extension can happen at any point this offseason. Since the Patriots did not adjust their quarterback’s cap number via the unmet incentives last year, Volin notes they can extend his contract before the 12-month mark from when the team included those incentives. Brady’s deal appears likely to be adjusted, with the 41-year-old passer’s contract-year cap figure sitting at $27MM.
  • Dialogue about the trade that moved the Jets up to last year’s No. 3 overall pick began at the 2018 Senior Bowl, with Jets VP of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger approaching Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds that January about a possible trade, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Christopher Johnson emphasized the Jets focus on quarterback scouting in 2017, primarily Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. The Jets targeted No. 3 overall because their sources indicated to them the Giants were zeroing in on Saquon Barkley, Cimini adds. Gang Green put its plan B into action a year ago today after Kirk Cousins spurned them.
  • The Dolphins are interested in acquiring a fullback, which marks a change from recent years. Specifically, they are exploring the addition of Michael Burton, per Salguero. Burton was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2-rated fullback last season but only played 49 snaps, not enough to qualify for full-time status. Only five fullbacks did meet those standards, illustrating this position’s scarcity on most teams. If not Burton, a four-year veteran who has played in Detroit and Chicago, Miami may target another UFA blocking back.
  • Prior to LaAdrian Waddle signing with the Bills, the Patriots conveyed interest in bringing him back, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Pats kept an open dialogue with their swing tackle but were not willing to match the Bills’ offer, Reiss adds.

Colts Promote Ed Dodds To Assistant General Manager

Colts GM Chris Ballard‘s staff is rounding into form. The organization announced a number of changes to their football operations staff earlier today, including the promotion of Ed Dodds to assistant general manager.

Dodds has spent 16 years in the NFL, including a decade with the Seahawks, where he served as the team’s senior personnel executive. In this role, Dodds was responsible for scouting both college and professional players. The team earned five division titles and a Super Bowl title during his tenure. He was hired last season as Indy’s vice president of player personnel, and he’s also spent time with the Raiders organization.

The Colts front office has seen plenty of turnover this offseason. The team had fired former general manager Ryan Grigson back in January, and they quickly replaced him with Ballard, who previously served as the Chiefs’ director of football operations.

The Colts’ other notable personnel changes include:

  • Brian Decker promoted to director of player development
  • Jon Shaw promoted to assistant director of pro scouting
  • Mike Lacy promoted to player personnel scout

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts To Add Front Office Staff Members

New Colts general manager Chris Ballard is initiating a revamp of the club’s front office by hiring former Jets senior director of college scouting Rex Hogan, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Hogan and former Seahawks senior personnel executive Ed Dodds — who is also expected to be hired soon — will be named co-vice presidents of player personnel, per Breer. Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday (Twitter link) reported earlier today that Indianapolis would likely add Hogan and Dodds.Chris Ballard (Vertical)

Indianapolis had been expected to make several changes to its personnel department, and those alterations began last week when the club parted ways with scouting director T.J. McCreight and several other members of that department. Given his title in New York, Hogan would seem to be a natural fit to take over McCreight’s duties, and he offers familiarity with Ballard, as well, as the pair previously worked together in Chicago.

Dodds, meanwhile, has been linked to the Colts since March, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported at the time that Ballard was interested in bringing Dodds to Indianapolis. He’d been expected to land a promotion over his current role in Seattle, and he could help fill the void left by former vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III, who was let go earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Colts have also hired Brian Decker, a former Green Beret, as player personnel strategist, tweets Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com. As Wickersham detailed in a fascinating piece last summer, Decker previously worked for the Browns’ front office, creating character assessments under former Cleveland decision-makers Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi, and Ray Farmer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.