Louis Riddick

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 1-15-21 (4:59pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Deshaun Watson Considering Trade Demand?

Multiple reports over the past few days have indicated that quarterback Deshaun Watson is unhappy with the Texans, and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com has thrown his hat into the ring. Mortensen says that the rumblings about Watson’s displeasure are accurate, and that Watson could even demand a trade (Twitter links).

In addition to Watson’s concerns about how the Texans’ GM search unfolded, which we have already detailed, Mortensen says the three-time Pro Bowl passer continues to be concerned about the team’s insensitivity to social justice issues. In Watson’s view, that insensitivity manifested itself in the team’s decision to not interview Chiefs’ OC Eric Bieniemy, who is black, one of the hottest head coaching candidates in this year’s cycle, and a personal favorite of Watson’s (though Mortensen clarified in a later tweet that Watson’s anger is not “strongly connected” to social justice matters and is more related to the state of the franchise).

And according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Watson is not just upset by the fact that owner Cal McNair did not consider the GM or head coaching candidates that Watson endorsed, despite assurances that he would at least take his quarterback’s opinions into account. McNair, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to have the search firm Korn Ferry assist with the GM and HC hunt, ultimately disregarded the firm’s GM recommendations. Korn Ferry tabbed Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick as the two most viable candidates for the GM position, but McNair instead forged ahead with Nick Caserio, whom he had been targeting for some time.

Schefter went on to say that Watson, whose anger level on a scale of 1 to 10 was a 2 when the team traded wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last year, is currently at a 10. While Caserio said in his introductory press conference that Watson is the Texans’ quarterback — thereby implying he would not trade him — Watson could certainly make life difficult for Caserio if he chooses to do so.

Interestingly, a Watson trade would not be as damaging to the Texans’ books as one might think, given that the Clemson product just signed a massive extension earlier this year. A trade would leave Houston with just $21.6MM in dead money for the 2021 season, and as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, multiple GMs believe the Texans could acquire up to three first-round picks in a Watson deal.

Watson does have a no-trade clause written into his new contract, but according to Mortensen, he would consider a trade to the Dolphins. Of course, Houston would have had the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, but it traded that selection, along with its 2021 second-rounder, to Miami as part of the Laremy Tunsil swap in 2019. The Dolphins, who also hold their own first-round selection in this year’s draft (No. 18 overall) have the capital and the cap space to get a deal done.

Mortensen suggests that Tua Tagovailoa would head to Houston as part of a Watson trade, which would be a controversial and career-defining move if Caserio were to make it. Obviously, that is little more than speculation at this point, but it appears Watson’s feelings towards the Texans will be a major storyline of this offseason.

In related news, Korn Ferry named Colts DC Matt Eberflus as one of the top candidates for the Texans’ HC vacancy, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (via Twitter). McNair at least tried to interview Eberflus, but Eberflus turned down the request. Breer notes in a separate tweet that Houston is also eyeing Bills OC Brian Daboll, who has interviews lined up with the Chargers and Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars To Interview Louis Riddick For GM Opening

Louis Riddick is a popular man these days. The Monday Night Football commentator, who has already interviewed for the GM openings in Houston and Detroit, will interview for the Jaguars’ GM position as well, according to Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

Schefter reported a few days ago that Jacksonville was interested in Riddick, but it had not yet set up a summit. If his interview with the Jags goes well, Riddick might be stepping into a very intriguing opportunity.

Thanks to the Jets’ shocking win over the Rams on Sunday, the 1-13 Jaguars now find themselves in pole position in the race for Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, widely regarded as the best quarterback prospect the league has seen in a long time. Jacksonville’s next GM may very well have the chance to hitch his wagon to Lawrence, and he will also have two first-round picks and a league-leading amount of cap space at his disposal.

Jacksonville parted ways with former general manager Dave Caldwell at the end of November. Though the Jags looked to be a team on the rise after narrowly missing a Super Bowl berth in 2017, they lost double-digit games in every other season with Caldwell in the GM post. They are once again in a rebuilding phase, but Lawrence would go a long way towards accelerating that process.

The team will also have a decision to make on head coach Doug Marrone at the end of the season, and the new GM will presumably have a major say in that regard.

Louis Riddick Interviewing For Texans GM Job; Jaguars Interested

The Monday Night Football booth may see more turnover. Three of the teams that fired their GMs this season are interested in Louis Riddick, a former NFL front office executive-turned-TV analyst.

Ahead of his meeting with the Lions, Riddick is interviewing with the Texans, Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com report (on Twitter). The Texans are interviewing Riddick on Wednesday, while the Lions are scheduled to do so Friday.

The Jaguars have also expressed interest, Schefter adds (on Twitter), but have yet to schedule a meeting. The Jags fired Dave Caldwell a day after the Lions axed Bob Quinn. Both teams appear set to construct rebuilds, and one of the projects could mean ESPN again changing up its Monday-night booth.

A former NFL defensive back, Riddick worked as the Eagles’ director of player personnel from 2010-13. He spent nine years with Philadelphia. Before that, he broke into the scouting world with Washington from 2001-04. Riddick has been with ESPN for several years and joined Brian Griese and Steve Levy in the network’s latest reprise of its Monday Night Football team this season.

The Texans are using a search firm headlined by ex-coaches-turned-analysts Tony Dungy and Jimmy Johnson. They are moving on from a tumultuous GM period, with coach-GM Bill O’Brien making several splashy and scrutinized moves during his year and change in power. The Texans and 12-year GM Rick Smith parted ways after the 2017 season, and Houston employed Brian Gaine for barely a year before giving O’Brien personnel power. As a result, the Texans do not have a bevy of cornerstone players under contract beyond Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt. The latter may well be traded next year.

Jacksonville shifted front office structures during Caldwell’s tenure, using Tom Coughlin as its top decision-maker from 2017-19, but kept the former employed for nearly eight seasons. During that time, seven double-digit loss campaigns sandwiched the Jags’ outlier 2017 AFC championship game run. The next Jags GM is projected to inherit the NFL’s most cap space in 2021, and he will have two first-round picks — the first of those likely coming at No. 1 or No. 2 overall — to use to construct a rebuild.

Lions To Interview Louis Riddick

The Lions plan to interview Louis Riddick for their GM vacancy on Friday, a source tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Riddick, who currently works for ESPN, last worked in the NFL in 2013 in the Eagles’ front office.

Riddick is now the first known out-of-house candidate to be interviewed by the Lions. He’s best known for his time in Philly from 2005-13, including his run as the Eagles’ director of player personnel from 2010-13. Before that, he broke into the scouting world with the [Washington Football team] from 2001-04, so his executive tenure has come entirely in the NFC East.

The former NFL defensive back could now transition to the NFC North, though the Lions are expected to cast a wide net in their search. Their pool of candidates may include former Giants general manager Jerry Reese. Reese, who was fired by the G-Men in 2017, has the support from advisors to the Ford family and his predecessor Ernie Accorsi.

Latest On Redskins’ HC Plans, Front Office

After little emerged on the Redskins front for weeks following Jay Gruden‘s firing, the struggling franchise is dominating the early-weekend news cycle. Bruce Allen‘s role as team president is not safe, with a Black Monday dismissal being considered.

The Redskins are considering firing their 10-year front office czar, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports, adding that Allen may have a chance to remain with the organization in a non-football role. That would be an interesting setup given Allen’s tumultuous tenure in Washington, but Dan Snyder is pondering widespread changes to his football operations department.

Replacement options for Allen include ex-Texans GM Rick Smith and former NFL executive-turned-TV analyst Louis Riddick, La Canfora adds, noting Snyder has done research on a few personnel execs. Smith resigned from his Houston post after the 2017 season but is open to returning to the league. Riddick worked with the Redskins from 2001-07, serving as a scout and pro personnel director. He subsequently held the same role with the Eagles.

As for Washington’s HC opening, Snyder has “strong interest” in Ron Rivera, per JLC. The longtime Redskins owner is also interested in Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, ex-Jets HC and current Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles, longtime Bengals HC Marvin Lewis and former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. These are consolation prizes, though, with La Canfora reporting Snyder’s primary hope is to work out a trade for Mike Tomlin. Snyder is not optimistic about such a deal. The prospect of bringing the Virginia native to Washington surfaced two-plus months ago.

The prospect of bringing aboard a defensive coach opens the door to Washington sticking with top offensive incumbents Bill Callahan and Kevin O’Connell. Snyder is high on both his interim HC and first-year OC, according to La Canfora. Callahan expressed interest in staying on, though it’s not known if he would stick around under another head coach, and O’Connell has been the primary Dwayne Haskins developer this season. Snyder was the driving force behind the Redskins’ Haskins pick, overruling Gruden.

Allen has not excelled in Washington, but neither have most of the head coaches under Snyder. The Redskins have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons under the 21st-year owner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Riddick, Jeremiah, Bengals, Bills, Knox

There seems to be a growing trend of NFL media personalities making the jump to front offices. Mike Mayock recently left NFL Network to become the Raiders’ GM, and since then we’ve heard rumors about a handful of big names. Back in May we heard that the Jets were targeting Daniel Jeremiah, also of NFL Network, for a prominent role in their front office. New Jets GM Joe Douglas apparently wanted him, but Jeremiah wasn’t interested. Now, it turns out the Jets aren’t the only ones that have pursued the 41-year-old draft analyst. “Jeremiah is continually rebuffing NFL advances,” according to Lindsay Jones of The Athletic.

Jones also writes that she thinks “we’ll continue to hear Louis Riddick’s name a lot in personnel circles.” Riddick, an ESPN analyst, interviewed for the Giants’ GM job back in late 2017 before they ultimately hired Dave Gettleman. Both Riddick and Jeremiah are very highly regarded, so it’s not shocking news. Still, it’s an interesting development. How Mayock fares in Oakland might go a long way in determining how many teams take this approach in the future.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet Saturday evening:

  • The Bengals suffered a tough blow a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that Jonah Williams would likely miss his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. Williams was the 11th overall pick in April’s draft, and Cincy was counting on him to start at left tackle. Cordy Glenn will slide over from guard to take his place, but the Bengals are now pretty thin at tackle. As such, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic expects the Bengals to make a move to add a tackle “whether a veteran cut, waiver pickup or trade.” The Bengals also have to find a replacement for Glenn at left guard, and last we heard 2016 fifth-round pick Christian Westerman is the early favorite. There aren’t too many appealing veteran options on the open market, so perhaps the Bengals will try to swing a trade. With Glenn on the left side and former Giants castoff Bobby Hart on the right side, the Bengals don’t have an enviable situation at tackle.
  • It’s often said that tight end is the hardest position to transition to the pro game from college at other than quarterback. Rookie tight ends don’t usually make huge contributions, as it takes them a while to adjust. Don’t tell that to Dawson Knox and the Bills. Knox, a third-round pick from Ole Miss, has a shot to start from Week 1 for Buffalo, according to Vic Carruci of the Buffalo News. Knox never was used a ton as a receiver, racking up only 284 yards in his last year at Ole Miss, but he did average an impressive 18.9 yards per catch. The Bills finally let Charles Clay go this past offseason, but they also signed Tyler Kroft to a three-year deal, who profiles as Knox’s main competition. Kroft suffered a broken foot back in May and might not be ready for the start of the regular season, which could force Buffalo’s hand with Knox.

East Notes: Giants, Collins, Cutler, Jets

A day after referring to Eli Apple as “a cancer,” Landon Collins has attempted to walk that back. While that might be difficult, the All-Pro Giants safety issued an apology (on Twitter) today and confirmed he did so in person in a meeting with Apple and Steve Spagnuolo. The interim HC confirmed the meeting, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).

I met with Coach Spags and Eli this morning and I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins said. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”

On Tuesday during a radio interview, Collins said Apple “needs to grow up.” Wednesday’s apology marks the latest chapter in a weeks-long saga involving the two defensive backs. Earlier this month, Collins said he’d talked to Apple — who has taken a step back this season — and told media the cornerback’s issues were mental and that he was dealing with “significant” personal struggles. Apple then denied Collins spoke with him, and the third-year safety — according to NJ.com — had to be restrained by teammates as he attempted to confront the second-year corner. Apple has not been suspended like Janoris Jenkins or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were, but he’s been benched and reportedly nearly left the Giants’ facility because of a harsh film-room session earlier this season.

Here’s the latest out of the Eastern divisions.

  • Josh McDaniels remains linked to Patriots exec Nick Caserio regarding GM/HC arrangements, but Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the New England OC could also be interested in pairing up with Louis Riddick as a GM. Riddick interviewed for the Giants’ GM job last week, although Dave Gettleman is viewed as the favorite. McDaniels and Caserio were a sought-after tandem last year, with the 49ers having shown interest in bringing them to the Bay Area.
  • Adam Gase said Wednesday he has not spoken to Jay Cutler about him returning to the Dolphins in 2018, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Jackson adds the Dolphins remain committed to having Ryan Tannehill return as their starter next season, but he reported last week the Fins would be open to Cutler coming back as the backup. Cutler will start this weekend’s regular-season finale against the Bills.
  • Davis Webb will rise to the Giants‘ No. 2 quarterback role and take Geno Smith‘s place as Eli Manning‘s backup, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It will be the first time Webb suits up as an NFLer. Smith will be inactive Sunday, and Webb could see time off the bench in the game under the format Ben McAdoo broached with Manning upon benching him earlier this year. Spagnuolo, however, said (via Schwartz, on Twitter) there are “no guarantees” the third-round rookie makes his NFL debut against the Redskins.
  • The Jets are likely to land a pick in the lower part of the top 10, and Brian Costello of the New York Post ranked the most- to least-likely scenarios involving offseason quarterback plans. Most likely is a setup where the Jets draft Josh Allen with their first pick and re-sign Josh McCown to continue his better-than-expected stopgap work. Costello notes the Jets’ top competition for the Wyoming passer could be the BroncosJohn Elway trekked to the Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, last week to observe Allen in person. The Jets, though, have put in the most work on Allen to this point. Gang Green’s No. 2 scenario? Kirk Cousins, whom Costello recalls the team showing interest in after Smith was sucker-punched in 2015.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Manning, Eagles

Two years ago, Louis Riddick spoke to the New York Post about the Giants‘ coaching search that resulted in the promotion of Ben McAdoo. Riddick indicated that if he were in charge of the search, he would make a strong play for Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

I tell you this, if I was a GM, I was a team president, I was an owner, I would definitely make the call,’’ Riddick said (via Paul Schwartz of the NY Post). “I would try. Because I’m not one of those people who believe he was a failure in the NFL. I would be making that call, and I would be saying what would it take to come get you to come talk to me and how much money will it take? “I would have my plane gassed up and down in Tuscaloosa going ‘Will you talk to me?’

Saban is one of the most successful coaches in college football history, but his time in the NFL with the Dolphins did not go as planned. For what it’s worth, Riddick believes that he would do a lot better if he was given another chance. Now that Riddick is up for the Giants’ GM job, one can’t help but wonder if he could bring Saban to New York.

Riddick was also highly complementary of Patriots offensive Josh McDaniels in that conversation. Some anticipate that Riddick would bring McDaniels on board if hired by the G-Men.

He’s a guy, based on my research and knowing him a little bit, I think he’s gonna be fantastic,’’ Riddick said. “I think he’s gonna blow it out of the water and be dynamite in his second shot.’’

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • With roughly eight head coaching positions expected to be available, the chances are high that one of the Eagles‘ assistants gets plucked, Tim McManus of ESPN.com writes. In particular, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz are expected to garner a lot of interest. Schwartz may have to shed the “retread” label, but DeFilippo has been largely responsible for the development of quarterback Carson Wentz and at the age of 39, he is viewed as a coach on the rise in the mold of Sean McVay. When all is said and done, the Eagles are likely to have to fill at least one vacancy on the staff.
  • When speaking as a TV analyst recently, Riddick said that the Giants should consider taking a quarterback with their top pick, regardless of whether or not they keep Eli Manning. “Drafting a young player has to be on the ticket anyway, just by virtue of the fact that you know [Manning] is closer to the end than the beginning,” Riddick said (via Schwartz). “There’s a lot of different moving parts here. But I think everybody will win in the end. I think Eli will get what he wants, and I think the Giants will just move on into the future.”
  • A new deal for Cowboys guard Zack Martin will not come cheap.
  • Is Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther destined to join the Redskins?

Giants To Interview Kevin Abrams On Friday

The Giants will interview interim general manager Kevin Abrams for the club’s full-time position on Friday, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. Abrams will become the fourth candidate to interview for the job, joining ex-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross, and ESPN commentator Louis Riddick.

Abrams, who has spent 16 seasons as the Giants’ assistant general manager, has reportedly been endorsed by former New York GM Ernie Accorsi, tweets Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Accorsi, who is advising the Giants as they search for a Jerry Reese replacement, also has close ties with Gettleman, who is considered the frontrunner for the vacancy.

The Giants could conceivably retain Abrams as general manager and hire Gettleman with a “personnel chief” title, opines Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). Although Garafolo appears to be speculating and not reporting, such an arrangement could make sense. Gettleman’s ouster from Carolina was reportedly tied to his communication issues and gruff style, so assigning more interpersonal issues to Abrams could be a perfect compromise.

Meanwhile, if Riddick is chosen as the Giants’ new GM, he’s expected to attempt to hire Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the club’s head coach. Riddick and McDaniels were reportedly viewed as a “package deal” during the hiring cycle earlier this year.