Mike Borgonzi

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

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 Interview Jeff Ireland, Joe Schoen, Monti Ossenfort

The Panthers have been busy with GM interviews Tuesday. Their meeting with Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio occurred today, but the franchise also met with three other candidates.

Carolina interviewed Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland, Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen and Titans player personnel director Monti Ossenfort, the team announced. These meetings followed Monday interviews with ex-Giants GM Jerry Reese and Browns exec Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The Panthers requested an interview with Colts exec Ed Dodds and are also interested in 49ers staffer Adam Peters.

While Ireland is best known for his GM run with the Dolphins (2008-13), he has been with the Saints since 2015. Also serving as New Orleans’ college scouting director, he has teamed with Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis to help restore the Saints to a perennial playoff entrant with successful drafts in the late 2010s. The Panthers are the only team to interview Ireland in this year’s extensive GM hiring period.

Ossenfort moved from New England to Nashville this year, leaving his longtime Patriots post for a central role with the Titans. He interviewed for the Browns GM opening earlier this year. Schoen has been a right-hand man for Brandon Beane and has played a key role in elevating the Bills from a team with a 17-year playoff drought to one that just secured the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

The Panthers are also interested in Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Chiefs director of player personnel Mike Borgonzi, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Paton has long been a target of GM-seeking teams. His most recent connection came when he backed out of the Browns’ 2020 GM search, one in which he was viewed as the favorite. The Chiefs have seen multiple Andy Reid-era staffers — Chris Ballard, Brett Veach — become GMs. Borgonzi predates Reid’s Kansas City arrival, having joined the Chiefs in 2009. He has risen from a scouting post to director of football operations over the past 10-plus years.

West Notes: 49ers, Hawks, Raiders, Chiefs

Before signing Mike Person earlier today, the 49ers also worked out veteran offensive linemen Oday Aboushi, Josh LeRibeus, and Brian Schwenke, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). San Francisco was clearly on the lookout for an experienced lineman capable of playing multiple spots along the interior, and Person won the job. Each of Aboushi, LeRibeus, and Schwenke boast at least one season of regular starting work, but none have generated any known interest to this point in the offseason. If the 49ers are in need of more center/guard as the year progresses, however, it’s fair to assume they’ll circle back to these same candidates.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have both denied that Seattle is entering a full-scale rebuild, and the club’s meeting with veteran wideout Brandon Marshall only verifies that stance, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. While the Seahawks have shed a mass of talent this offseason by releasing or trading stalwarts such as Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril, the club doesn’t intend to sacrifice its intention to compete. Marshall, of course, hasn’t been productive since 2015, but he’d add a physical element to a wide receiving depth chart that includes Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Jaron Brown.
  • Linebacker Derrick Johnson rebuffed offers from two-to-three other clubs in order to sign with the Raiders, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Johnson, 35, reiterated that the opportunity to play for head coach Jon Gruden played a large role in his decision to join Oakland’s squad, where he is expected to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme for the first time in his career. The Raiders have made multiple additions to the second level of their defense, adding Tahir Whitehead, Emmanuel Lamur, and Kyle Wilber in addition to Johnson. As such, it’s becoming clear that fellow linebacker NaVorro Bowman is unlikely to return to the Bay Area.
  • Byron Maxwell‘s new deal with the Seahawks has a base value of $2MM, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The veteran cornerback, who is now in his second stint with Seattle, will collect a $950K base salary, a $500K signing bonus, a $100K roster bonus paid if he makes the Seahawks’ 53-man roster, and up to $450K in per-game roster bonuses. Maxwell looks like the clear favorite to start at outside corner opposite Shaquill Griffin, but he’ll be pushed by Justin Coleman and free agent addition Dontae Johnson.
  • The Chiefs announced that they’ve promoted Mike Borgonzi to director of football operations. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com points out (Twitter link), Borgonzi will now take over the position manned by Chris Ballard before he became the Colts’ general manager, meaning the former should now be viewed as a future GM candidate. Kansas City also promoted Ryan Poles to assistant director of player personnel and named Ryne Nutt director of college scouting.

AFC Notes: Kap, Chiefs, Bills, Ravens, Pats

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith became $2MM richer when he showed up to training camp Thursday, making his reporting bonus the largest in the NFL, per Field Yates of ESPN (on Twitter).

With Smith and first-round pick Patrick Mahomes in the fold, the Chiefs aren’t in the market for a signal-caller, but there would be “no hesitation” to sign polarizing free agent Colin Kaepernick if they were, owner Clark Hunt told NBC Sports Radio in San Francisco on Wednesday (via Scott Gleason of USA Today).

While Kaepernick’s political activism has made it difficult for him to find work since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March, that wouldn’t have deterred the Chiefs from pursuing him. Clark noted that “there are certain circumstances where guys get in trouble off the field, and that is something as an organization and as a family we care about,” but Kaepernick isn’t someone who has been a problem away from the gridiron.

Notably, Kaepernick was teammates with Smith when the two were 49ers from 2011-12. Kaepernick took the No. 1 job from Smith during that stretch, which led San Francisco to trade him to Kansas City, but there’s no chance of the two appearing on the same depth chart with the Chiefs.

More on KC and a few other AFC franchises:

  • Free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin‘s workout in Buffalo this past Monday hasn’t led to a deal, though head coach Sean McDermott hasn’t closed the door on the 36-year-old signing with the Bills. McDermott told Mike Rodak of ESPN.com and other reporters Thursday that the two sides are still determining whether they’re the right match for each other. McDermott also called the meeting with Boldin a “nice visit,” according to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (Twitter link).
  • The Ravens were the only team other than the Jets to put him in a claim for wide receiver Lucky Whitehead, tweets Field Yates of ESPN. Whitehead hit waivers after the Cowboys cut him Monday, and he joined the Jets on Wednesday.
  • The Chiefs promoted Mike Borgonzi from co-director of player personnel to director of player personnel on Wednesday, per BJ Kissel of the team’s website. Borgonzi had shared the position with Brett Veach, who took over for the fired John Dorsey as Kansas City’s GM earlier this month. Veach beat out Borgonzi and others for the role.
  • Undrafted rookie Austin Carr could benefit from Andrew Hawkinsretirement more than any other Patriots receiver, observes Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. The Pats are still loaded at receiver, where they’ll primarily rely on Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola, but Hawkins’ exit leaves Carr as the next man up, writes Reiss. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Carr was the Big Ten receiver of the year last year, when he piled up 90 catches, 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns at Northwestern.

Latest On Chiefs’ GM Search

Former Chiefs general manager John Dorsey‘s firing this past week was surprising for a number of reasons, including the timing. Terez A. Paylor of KansasCity.com writes how the late-June move was “unprecedented” and could lead to several complications for the organization.

John Dorsey (Vertical)As Paylor explains, the NFL is generally on “vacation” during this time of year, with most “player evaluators” fired after the draft to prevent them from passing along information to future employers. The writer also notes that Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt had previously said that he’d like to hammer out extensions for both Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid during this late-June timeframe. Following the firing, Paylor wonders if negotiation discussions may have broken down. Of course, on the flip side, a letter from Hunt earlier this week didn’t give any indications that contract negotiations had to do with the firing.

Either way, it will be particularly difficult for the organization to hire a replacement at this point of the offseason. If the Chiefs are eyeing someone from an outside organization, they’d have to get permission from the opposing team to interview that individual. As Paylor writes, few teams will be willing to grant that permission at this point of the year, as it’ll be presumably difficult to fill that spot in their own organization.

“Teams don’t want to lose a guy at this time of year because they’d be so hard to replace,” Senior Bowl director Phil Savage (and former NFL GM) said. “Most of these moves are made right after the season or after the draft, so you have all of May to get organized.

“I bet half of the teams are in NFL are out of country this week. To get a phone call saying ‘Hey, we want to interview your right-hand man,’ some teams would be reluctant.”

Paylor notes that the team could alternatively promote from within, with the writer suggesting co-directors of player personnel, Brett Veach or Mike Borgonzi, as potential candidates. Regardless of the team’s game plan, it will surely take some time before the Chiefs officially announce a replacement.

Chiefs To Start GM Search Immediately

After firing general manager John Dorsey earlier today, the Chiefs intend to begin their search for a new GM immediately, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Kansas City will consider both internal and external candidates for the position, per Yates, and has a “loose goal” of finding a general manager by the start of training camp, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Kansas City Chiefs helmet general (Featured)

The Chiefs’ most natural internal contender for the job may have been Chris Ballard, who’d worked under Dorsey for four years. But Ballard has already landed a new job this offseason, as he was named the Colts’ general manager in January. Other incumbent candidates for the Kansas City position may include co-directors of player personnel Mike Borgonzi and Brett Veach, the latter of whom was linked to the Bills’ GM vacancy. Indeed, both Borgonzi and Veach are expected to garner GM interviews, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Any number of external candidates could vie for the Chiefs’ general manager gig, and PFR’s 2017 GM Search Tracker — which documented every executive named in relation to the 49ers, Colts, and Bills general manager searches — could work as a list of possible contenders. Based on those hiring processes, possible interviewees could include Scott Fitterer and Trent Kirchner (Seahawks), George Paton (Vikings), Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst (Packers), Chris Polian (Jaguars), Eric DeCosta (Ravens), and Nick Caserio (Patriots).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.