John Lynch

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

John Lynch On Draft, Trades, Staley

With the draft approaching, 49ers general manager John Lynch conducted a teleconference with the local media Monday where he revealed several interesting nuggets. When asked about a report from earlier today that he was shopping veterans Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, Jaquiski Tartt, and Marquise Goodwin, Lynch denied the first three but acknowledged the fourth.

Marquise is the one guy out of that group that you mentioned where there’s active discussions going on,” Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports.The other guys, we love and are really looking forward to playing with moving forward.” It hasn’t been any secret they’ve been looking to trade Goodwin, and we heard last month they’d likely have to end up cutting him. However Lynch claimed there has been legit interest, saying a Goodwin deal “came close a couple of times” this offseason. Goodwin had a career year with San Francisco in 2017 with 962 yards, but injuries sapped his effectiveness and in 2019 he had only 186.

Also late last month we heard longtime left tackle Joe Staley wasn’t necessarily committed to playing in 2020, although Lynch assuaged some of those fears. “We’ve heard nothing that would lead us to believe that Joe is not going to play. So we’re encouraged with that. We’ll see where that goes,” he said. While that still is far from ironclad, it looks like Staley returning for a 14th season is a good bet.

The 49ers hold the 13th and 31st picks in the draft, and there has been speculation they’ll look to trade down since they currently don’t have any selections in the second, third, or fourth-rounds. Lynch confirmed he has talked to teams about potentially trading both picks, per a Maiocco tweet.

However, he said he’d stand pat at 13 if the team could land a “difference maker.” Lynch said that he and head coach Kyle Shanahan have so far identified six players they’d draft with the 13th pick before opting to trade down, Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: 49ers, Free Agency, Brown, Linehan

The 49ers just lost a Super Bowl in devastating fashion, and now they have to shrug it off and turn their attention to the offseason. San Francisco is in a bit of a cap bind, so they’ll have to get resourceful this spring. They made a big splash last cycle by doling out big contracts to guys like Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, and Tevin Coleman, and general manager John Lynch recently signaled they won’t be nearly as aggressive this time around. “Those days aren’t happening anymore,” Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. “We can’t go to the grocery store and say, ‘I’ll have that, I’ll have that, I’ll have that.’ It is more like, ‘I’ll have that, but I might have to put that back.’ There are tradeoffs.”

Lynch and Kyle Shanahan probably have a trick or two up their sleeve and won’t stand completely pat, but don’t expect them to be big spenders. The 49ers currently have 22 guys set to be free agents, including some high profile ones like Emmanuel Sanders, Arik Armstead, Matt Breida, and Jimmie Ward. It’s likely they won’t be able to re-sign everybody. They’ll mostly be running it back with the same group of guys, and will be counting on Jimmy Garoppolo to guide them back to another Super Bowl.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Antonio Brown has already been dropped by his agent, and now he’s being dropped by an attorney. Brown’s counsel defending him against the rape allegations in Florida has filed a motion to withdraw as his lawyer, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic (Twitter link). So far Brown is only facing a civil suit and not any criminal charges over the alleged sexual assault, and this is hardly a surprising development given Brown’s propensity to cycle through those around him. The embattled receiver is currently out on bail from burglary and battery charges.
  • Scott Linehan is resurfacing in the college ranks. The former NFL offensive coordinator is being hired as LSU’s next passing game coordinator, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Linehan had served as the Cowboys’ OC for four seasons before getting canned after the 2018 campaign. He spent this past year out of football, and is now latching on with the defending national champions. Interestingly, he’ll be replacing Joe Brady at LSU, the 30-year-old whizkid who recently became the Panthers’ offensive coordinator. Linehan, who caught a lot of flak during his last couple of years in Dallas, has also served as the OC for the Vikings, Dolphins, and Lions. He was the Rams’ head coach from 2006-08.

49ers’ HC Kyle Shanahan, GM John Lynch In Line For Extensions

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch both joined the team in 2017 and received matching six-year contracts. In year three of their partnership, they have guided San Francisco to the brink of their sixth Super Bowl championship, and they are about to be rewarded for it.

Sources tell Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com that both men are in line for new deals — which will surely include handsome raises — sometime this offseason. All sides are hoping that this will get done prior to the start of the 2020 regular season.

Shanahan told owner Jed York during his interview three years ago that he was inheriting a “horrible” roster, and York knew that the 2019 season would be the first season in which the team’s new power structure could be fairly judged. The fact that QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 campaign might have pushed back York’s timeline, but the team has largely managed to stay healthy this year and has lived up to Lynch’s vision of a team that is stout up front on both sides of the ball.

Rapoport and Garafolo offer a few more details on the interview process that convinced York that Lynch, who had no front office or coaching experience at the time, was the right man for the job, so the piece is worth a read for Niners fans. The relationship between the neophyte GM and head coach started in a good place and has only blossomed from there, and both men appear poised to lead the team for the foreseeable future.

It is fascinating to see how quickly things can change. In July, there were rumors that Lynch and DC Robert Saleh were on the hot seat. Months later, Saleh became a hot head coaching candidate and Lynch is staring down the barrel of a Super Bowl ring and a new contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Notes: Shanahan, Lynch, Garoppolo

The trade that sent Jimmy Garoppolo from New England to San Francisco has turned out to be one of the most important swaps in recent NFL history, with Tom Brady‘s former backup set to start in Super Bowl LIV. Despite other suitors believed to be in the mix for Garoppolo in 2017, Bill Belichick alerted Kyle Shanahan he was willing to part with the former second-round pick for a second-rounder. The 49ers quickly accepted but did so after initially being willing to offer the Patriots more for the then-fourth-year passer, Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com reports. But Belichick, despite previous refusals to trade Garoppolo, was not posturing when he indicated he would take a Round 2 pick for his contract-year quarterback.

It ended up costing the 49ers only the No. 43 overall selection in 2018 to land their starting quarterback. While this process was murkier on the Patriots’ end, it helped the 49ers construct a rebuild that has them in their seventh Super Bowl.

A week away from the 49ers’ Super Bowl matchup with the Chiefs, here is the latest out of San Francisco:

  • Going back to when this rebuild began, Shanahan did not mince words about the state of the 49ers during his interview for their top coaching job. Early in the then-Falcons OC’s 2017 interview, he told team CEO Jed York the roster left over from the Trent Baalke era at that time was “horrible,” Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. This led to a gradual rebuild that did not get far off the ground before this season, with the 49ers going 10-22. But York was on board with the process, viewing 2019 as the first real season on which the Shanahan-John Lynch regime could be judged, Maiocco adds. York gave the HC-GM duo six-year contracts because of the team going through three coaches in three years from 2014-16.
  • Lynch’s hire came about because he cold-called Shanahan with an offer to pair with him in San Francisco, Wickersham adds. A recommendation from Mike Shanahan, who coached Lynch in Denver, helped seal the deal for his son. Lynch had spoken at length with Kyle Shanahan on the phone in preparation for games he would call as a broadcaster, per Wickersham, and hoped for a chance to return to football. Shanahan did not have much familiarity with the other finalists for the 49ers’ GM job — Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough — and the decision to hire a GM out of the broadcast booth has helped the 49ers return to the Super Bowl.
  • Despite dealing with a dislocated shoulder that induced pain preventing him from walking off the field last weekend, Tevin Coleman has received good news about his status for Super Bowl LIV.

NFC Notes: Witten, 49ers’ QB Trades, Kessler

Jason Witten made his return to the Cowboys after one year away from the club. As a former locker room leader of the franchise, integrating himself back into the fold could have been tricky, as new leaders have emerged in his absence. However, according to coach Jason Garrett, Witten has had no issues rejoining the team.

“Witt has been very mindful of that coming back,” Garrett said of Witten’s locker room role (via ESPN’s Ed Werder on Twitter). “He doesn’t want to be a guy the younger guys are constantly deferring to. He wants to integrate himself back into it, and he’s done that beautifully.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It appears the 49ers will hang on to both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard rather than trading one of the quarterbacks. “We haven’t had talks at all,” GM John Lynch said of the possibility of trades (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports’ Twitter feed).
  • Jimmy Ward was in full pads for the first time this week since he fractured his collarbone, Maiocco tweets. The 49ers gave him a one-year deal this past offseason.
  • Cody Kessler remains in the concussion protocol, per the EaglesTwitter feed. The franchise signed Josh McCown earlier today to add depth at the QB spot.
  • While the Texans may want picks if they are going to trade Jadeveon Clowney, Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP (Twitter link) contends that the Eagles should offer Derek Barnett straight up for him. Barnett, who was a first-round pick back in 2017, has two years remaining on his deal.

NFC Notes: Packers, Clark, Lynch, Giants

The Packers made the surprising decision to cut Mike Daniels earlier today, and GM Brian Gutekunst confirmed that the club did try to trade Daniels first (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). It sounds as if Green Bay made some headway in trade talks, but the talks broke down over the last couple of weeks. Gutekunst also mentioned Daniels’ foot injury as a factor in the decision.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • The decision to cut Daniels has opened the door for the Packers to sign NT Kenny Clark to a lucrative extension, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Silverstein suggests (via Twitter) that such a deal could happen at the end of the season.
  • Matt Barrows of The Athletic suggests that, although John Lynch is the 49ers‘ GM, he is primarily in charge of the defense, while head coach Kyle Shanahan picks the offensive talent. And Lynch has missed on a few major decisions on the defensive side of the ball, so if that unit should struggle again, not only will defensive coordinator Robert Saleh be in danger of losing his job, but Lynch could be as well.
  • The Giants worked out free agent safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Tre Boston several days ago, but Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com does not believe Big Blue is going to pay for a starting-caliber safety at this point (Twitter link). He thinks the club was simply doing its due diligence.
  • The Panthers will give Daryl Williams some reps at left tackle and left guard in training camp, per GM Marty Hurney (via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic on Twitter). Williams signed a one-year deal in March to remain with Carolina, but Hurney is said to prefer Taylor Moton at right tackle — where Williams has spent most of his time as a pro — and the club drafted LT Greg Little in the second round this year. So if Williams is to earn the big FA contract that he missed out on this year, he may have to do so at an unfamiliar spot.
  • The Buccaneers have placed Jason Pierre-Paul on the active/non-football injury list, as James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets. Although a player on the active/NFI list can be activated from that list at any time before the start of the season, that will almost certainly not happen with JPP, who is expected to miss at least a chunk of the regular season.

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.

49ers Inquired About Tom Brady Trade

Before being given the green light on a seminal Jimmy Garoppolo trade, John Lynch discussed the Patriots’ other prominent quarterback with Bill Belichick. It was not a long conversation.

The then-first-year 49ers GM did not receive the answer he wanted regarding a Garoppolo deal when he spoke will Belichick early in the 2017 offseason, and he said he then asked if the Patriots would trade Tom Brady.

Yeah, we were calling about Jimmy and we did have that conversation and got quickly rebuffed,” Lynch said of the Brady trade inquiry during an appearance on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast (via the San Francisco Chronicle). “I figured what the heck, you gotta take your shot right? You can’t score if you don’t shoot, so I had to summon up the courage. Bill laughed at me and basically hung up on me. But hey, I took my shot.”

Kyle Shanahan was told at the 2017 Combine Garoppolo wasn’t available, but at the trade deadline, he received a phone call from Belichick and quickly agreed to send the Patriots a second-rounder for the player who is now entrenched as the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Shanahan had Kirk Cousins on his radar prior to that move.

Brady enters his 19th season with the Patriots and is set to start Week 1 for a 17th straight season. This figures to be an amusing footnote associated with Lynch’s GM legacy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: John Lynch

John Lynch has had an enviable career in professional sports. He was selected in the first round of the 1992 Major League Baseball draft by the expansion Florida Marlins, and he threw the first pitch in Marlins’ organizational history as a member of one of the team’s minor league affiliates, the Erie Sailors. His Sailors jersey resides in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a result, but he was later selected in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Buccaneers, and he is probably pretty happy that he ultimately chose to pursue football.

Lynch spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career with Tampa Bay, and during that time, he established himself as an elite safety. He became one of the most feared tacklers in the league, and he was heralded for his leadership both on and off the field. His playmaking statistics leave a little to be desired, as he tallied just 26 interceptions and 13 sacks in his 15-year career (although he did not become a full-time player until 1996, his fourth year in the league). That could be one of the reasons why he is still on the outside looking in at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his play went beyond raw stats. He was always someone that opposing offenses had to plan around, and his work earned him nine Pro Bowl bids and two First Team All-Pro selections. He was also a key figure in the Bucs’ only championship, helping the team capture Super Bowl XXXVII.

Tampa Bay released the two-sport Stanford athlete following the 2003 campaign, and he was snapped up by the Broncos. Despite switching from strong safety to free safety, Lynch maintained a high level of play with his new club, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons in Mile High. He served as Denver’s defensive captain during the 2006-07 seasons, and on this day in 2007, he and the Broncos agreed to terms on a renegotiated contract that would keep him with the team for one more year.

He considered hanging up the cleats after the 2007 campaign, but Broncos owner Pat Bowlen convinced him to come back for one last hurrah. Even at age 36, though, Lynch expected to be on the field for every snap, and it became clear during the 2008 training camp that he would not be used in sub-packages. He ultimately left the team and was signed by the Patriots, though he never played a regular-season game for New England, which released him just a few weeks later.

Lynch formally announced his retirement in November 2008, and he subsequently enjoyed a successful stint as a color commentator for Fox. He was surprisingly named GM of the 49ers in January 2017, and while the jury is obviously still out on his tenure as an NFL executive, the early returns are promising.

Taking over a club in the midst of a full-scale rebuild, Lynch managed to acquire the team’s quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo last October in exchange for a second-round draft pick. This offseason, he (briefly) made Garoppolo the highest-paid player in NFL history, even though the East Illinois product has played a grand total of seven games in his professional career. Lynch’s fate with the 49ers will, of course, be tied to Garoppolo’s, but he has done as well as could be expected thus far. Indeed, San Francisco is being mentioned as a fringe playoff contender, no mean feat considering the roster that Lynch inherited. And while the playoffs may still be out of reach in 2018, one more good offseason of work could get the 49ers back to postseason play.

This date 11 years ago therefore marked the beginning of the end of Lynch’s on-field career, but his involvement with the league after retiring as a player has been pretty notable in its own right. He is a member of the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor and the Broncos’ Ring of Hame, and he remains a viable candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And while it’s certainly too early to engage in these types of discussions, maybe he’ll one day get into Canton as an executive even if he doesn’t make it as a player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.