Matt Bazirgan

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

Texans Interview Matt Bazirgan For GM Job

The Texans’ GM search will include internal candidates. Texans director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan interviewed for the franchise’s vacant GM post on Tuesday.

This would be a long-shot hire, with Bazirgan having arrived in Houston during Brian Gaine‘s short tenure as GM. But he represented part of Houston’s post-Gaine power structure and had a voice in personnel matters.

Prior to Bazirgan joining the Texans in 2018, he spent nearly 15 years with the Jets. Working his way up to New York’s college scouting director by the end of his tenure, Bazirgan has steadily risen since his 2004 NFL entrance as a scouting assistant.

The Texans fired Bill O’Brien in October and are looking to make their third GM hire since 2018. Rick Smith‘s exit after a 12-year tenure led to Gaine, who barely spent a year on the job. O’Brien’s tenure produced fireworks but will leave his successor without much in the way of draft capital. The Texans have interviewed Louis Riddick for this position and remain interested in Patriots exec Nick Caserio as well, but they are covering their bases with the Bazirgan interview.

Texans To Remain Without GM In 2020

Though the Texans failed in their efforts to hire Patriots exec Nick Caserio as their GM this spring, recent reports indicated that Houston — which has operated without a GM in 2019 — would simply hire Caserio in 2020, when his contract with New England is up. However, that no longer appears to be the case.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Texans plan to go without a true GM in 2020 as well. Currently, head coach Bill O’Brien has final say over football operations, though he works closely with vice president of team development Jack Easterby in that regard. Meanwhile, VP of Football Administration, Chris Olsen, handles contracts and salary cap matters, and Matt Bazirgan is in charge of player personnel.

The Texans are sitting at 7-4 and are in the driver’s seat for the AFC South title, so as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests, owner Cal McNair simply may be saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But while the major personnel moves the club has made without a GM — trading two first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills and trading a third-round pick for Duke Johnson, for example — have worked out relatively well in the short term, they will significantly handicap the team down the road. Those moves, combined with the team’s misplay of the Jadeveon Clowney situation, suggest to Florio that the Texans really do need a GM.

Indeed, the club interviewed GM candidates after the Caserio fiasco before electing to move forward with its current power structure. It could be that, given their dearth of high-end draft capital and the outside uncertainty as to how much power Easterby would wield over a new GM, the Texans may have a tough time attracting top candidates, so they will simply forego making the effort for now.

Whoever is calling the shots in 2020 will need to engage in extension talks with star QB Deshaun Watson, which may be tough to navigate with a true GM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Rumors: Clowney, O’Brien, Ossenfort

Here’s the latest on the Texans:

  • The Texans do not expect Jadeveon Clowney to report to camp, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports (video link). Still, there is reason to believe that he will not miss any regular season games. Pelissero hears that Clowney is studying his playbook and is still in regular contact with teammates, which isn’t the behavior of someone planning an extended holdout. One source close to Clowney even said he’d be “shocked” if the edge rusher was not on the field for Week 1.
  • The Texans’ reconfigured front office has head coach Bill O’Brien on top, Albert Breer of The MMQB writes. For now, everything will run through him in an operation that is likely to mirror New England’s. The rest of the plan goes like this: chief negotiator Chris Olsen will oversee the cap, director of player personnel Matt Bazirgan will handle pro scouting, college scouting director James Liipfert will do exactly what his title states, and EVP Jack Easterby will continue to have a jack-of-all-trades role.
  • On a related note, Breer hears that O’Brien liked New England college scouting director Monti Ossenfort as a GM candidate. Still, it sounds like the Texans are still waiting things out until they can land Nick Caserio.

Texans Won’t Hire GM For 2019

For now, the Texans’ GM job will remain vacant, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Rather than hiring a GM for 2019, the Texans will divvy up the responsibilities among Matt Bazirgan, James Liipfert, Chris Olsen and Jack Easterby.

The Texans fired Brian Gaine earlier this summer in an attempt to quickly replace him with Patriots executive Nick Caserio. The Patriots blocked the move and accused Easterby of tampering with the under-contract employee at the Pats’ ring ceremony.

The inclusion of Easterby in the Texans’ upper management is noteworthy and a bit surprising. Easterby previously served as the Patriots’ chaplain before earning the title of Executive Vice President of Team Development in Houston. Now, it appears that he is wielding more influence than ever.

It has been widely speculated that the Texans are simply biding their time until Caserio’s contract with New England expires. Still, there’s a long way to go between now and the 2020 offseason and things can always change.

Texans Hire Jets Exec As Player Personnel Director

After firing several members of their scouting department earlier this week, the Texans are quickly assembling their new-look scouting branch.

The franchise will bring aboard Matt Bazirgan from the Jets, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports he will serve as the Texans’ director of player personnel. The Jets granted Bazirgan permission to speak with the Texans.

Bazirgan joins former Patriots exec James Liipfert as new Texans hires, with the latter now in place as Houston’s director of college scouting. The Texans will also bring aboard former Cardinals scout John Ritcher, Wilson reports. Ritcher will become Houston’s southeast regional scout, per Wilson, after spending six years with the Cards.

Bazirgan, who looks set to assume some of former interim GM and VP of player personnel Jimmy Raye III‘s responsibilities, served as the Jets’ director of pro personnel for the past three years. Wilson adds Bazirgan has a strong reputation as a talent evaluator in NFL circles. He spent 14 years with the Jets.

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets

If Tom Brady continues his run of success in his age-39 campaign, the Patriots will likely be forced to use the franchise tag on backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2018, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. New England would probably deploy the tag with the intention trading Garoppolo, but dealing away the talented reserve signal-caller would depend on a number of factors, per Reiss. Aside from Brady’s excellent play and his intention to play for several more seasons, the Patriots would need to feel secure with current third-stringer Jacoby Brissett. The 23-year-old Brissett posted a record of 1-1 last season while completing 28 of 46 passes for more than 300 yards, and while he didn’t throw any touchdowns, he did score on the ground.

Let’s take a look at more from the AFC East:

  • Given that he was coming off an Achilles injury, the Dolphins attempted to limit defensive end Cameron Wake‘s snaps at the beginning of the 2016 season, but head coach Adam Gase now admits that strategy was an oversight. “I made a mistake. I should have been playing him more early,” Gase tells Adam Walker of ESPN.com. “We were trying to think long term. … We thought we were being smart and it backfired on us. What we should have done was just let him play.” Wake, 35, ended up playing on roughly half of Miami’s snaps, compiling 11.5 sacks and grading as the league’s No. 10 edge defender, according to Pro Football Focus. In February, Wake agreed to an extension that will keep him with the Dolphins through 2018.
  • Although the Patriots handed him a $100K base salary guarantee and a $15K signing bonus, Harvey Langi might have trouble earning a spot on New England’s roster given the club’s depth at linebacker, as Phil Perry of CSNNE.com details in his latest Patriots roster projection. Langi was a highly-touted undrafted free agent out of BYU, but New England’s recent addition of veteran David Harris could throw his status into flux. The Pats could attempt to pass him through waivers to the practice squad, but another team could be ready to pounce with a claim.
  • The Jets have promoted director of pro personnel Matt Bazirgan to college scouting director, sources tell Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. He replaces Rex Hogan, who left New York last month to become the Colts’ co-director of player personnel. Bazirgan had been working as Gang Green’s pro personnel director since 2015, and had worked as an area scout prior to that. A Jets staffer since 2004, Bazirgan has worked under four different New York general managers.