Omar Khan

2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

Along with the head coaches being fired, a few NFL teams are looking for new general managers. The Bears, Raiders and Vikings are in the market for new GMs, while the Steelers are soon to follow. Listed below are the GM candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status.

If and when other teams decide to make GM changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-24-22 (10:35pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Bears Request To Interview Chargers’ Wooden

Do not be surprised if you start getting calls from Chicago because the Bears are searching far and wide to fill their vacant general manager position and they are interviewing EVERYBODY! The newest candidate to add to the list is Chargers’ director of player personnel, JoJo Wooden, according to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Wooden has been with the Chargers since 2013 overseeing the pro and college scouting department for the Chargers. He got his start with the Jets in 1997 and spent 10 seasons working his way up from pro personnel assistant to the assistant director, player personnel, a position he held for six more years.

What makes Wooden an interesting candidate for the Bears’ job is the connections he has to the search committee. Bears Senior Writer Larry Mayer reported a couple days ago that Bill Polian, who has spent time as a general manager for the Bills, Panthers, and, most notably, the Colts, will be a resource to the Bears as they go through the process of hiring a new head coach and general manager. Wooden is known as a key lieutenant for the Chargers’ current general manager Tom Telesco, and Telesco worked under Polian during Polian’s entire tenure in Indianapolis.

To date, the Bears have already interviewed the Browns’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Glenn Cook and their own assistant director of player personnel, Champ Kelly. They’ve also requested interviews with the Colts’ Morocco Brown and Ed Dodds, the 49ers’ Ran Carthon, the Saints’ Jeff Ireland, the Steelers’ Omar Khan, the Giants’ Joe Schoen, and the Patriots’ Eliot Wolf. Texans’ former general manager Rick Smith has also been identified as a candidate.

Bears Request GM Interview With Steelers’ Omar Khan

After a complicated run during last year’s GM hiring period, Omar Khan is a name to watch again. The Bears sent out an interview request to speak with the Steelers exec Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Steelers vice president of football and business administration figures to be a candidate to succeed departing Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert, but for the second straight year, his name has surfaced on the interview circuit. Khan has been with the Steelers since 2001, though he was seemingly prepared to leave Pennsylvania for another gig last year.

A key figure for the Steelers on the contract front, Khan became the top candidate for the Texans’ GM post last year. The Texans offered Khan the job, on the recommendation of the search firm the franchise hired, and were believed to be negotiating a deal with him. At the 11th hour, those plans changed; Nick Caserio became Houston’s GM. Khan also interviewed with the Panthers, who ended up hiring Scott Fitterer to team with Matt Rhule.

Khan is the ninth name connected to the Bears’ GM search. Here is how that stands as of Wednesday afternoon:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert To Step Down

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has been working, by his own request, on a series of year-to-year contracts in order to leave open the possibility of retirement. After 22 years in the Pittsburgh front office, that day may have finally come, as Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com report that Colbert will step down after the 2022 draft.

As Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reminds us (via Twitter), Colbert has repeatedly stated that he would remain in his post as long as Ben Roethlisberger was the Steelers’ quarterback. Roethlisberger is set to retire at season’s end, so Colbert is staying true to his word. He may stay with the organization in an advisory capacity to assist whomever the Steelers hire to replace him, but the 65-year-old is expected to retire sooner rather than later.

He will leave behind an extraordinary legacy. Colbert, who became Pittsburgh’s director of football operations in 2000 before assuming the general manager title in 2010, has compiled a 225-124-3 record during his time in charge of the club’s personnel. That includes two Super Bowl titles with two different coaches, along with a third Super Bowl appearance.

In all of that time, the Steelers only had one losing season, which came way back in 2003. Following the arrival of Roethlisberger one year later, Pittsburgh has been a model of consistency, and the fact that the storied franchise remains one of the NFL’s most respected and has served as a template that other teams try to emulate is thanks in no small part to Colbert’s efforts.

Vice president of football and business administration, Omar Khan, would appear to be on the short list of potential replacements. Khan has been with the Steelers almost as long as Colbert, having been hired as the football administration coordinator in 2001. He has been a popular GM candidate for other teams in recent years, and he was reportedly offered the Texans’ GM gig last year before Houston pivoted to Nick Caserio.

Rapoport and Pelissero also name pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt as a candidate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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

Panthers Plan Second Interviews With Monti Ossenfort, Adam Peters

The Panthers continue to conduct an expansive general manager search. They are conducting second interviews with multiple candidates while also still meeting with execs for the first time.

On the second-interview front, Titans player personnel director Monti Ossenfort and 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters are the first two candidates set to meet with the Panthers again. Each is meeting with the Panthers for a second time, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who notes the team may opt to conduct more second interviews (Twitter link).

A former Broncos exec, Peters has been with the 49ers since 2017. Ossenfort was on GM radars previously as a Patriots staffer. He relocated to Tennessee just last year. Neither Ossenfort nor Peters has met with another team during this GM interview cycle. The Panthers expect to have a new GM this week.

Seemingly nearing the end of their first stage of interviews, the Panthers brought in Seahawks VP of football operations Scott Fitterer and Steelers VP of football and business administration Omar Khan this week. While Fitterer has been on the GM carousel for a few years now, joining fellow Seahawks exec Trent Kirchner in that regard, this marks his first interview in this cycle. The Seahawks promoted both in September.

Khan has not received as many interview summons in the past but was believed to be close to landing the Texans’ GM job. The search firm the Texans used recommended Khan, but owner Cal McNair — after some last-minute input from executive VP Jack Easterby — made longtime GM target Nick Caserio a big offer to leave New England. Caserio also interviewed with the Panthers.

Khan was believed to be negotiating a contract with the Texans when the Caserio news emerged. Khan has overseen Steelers contracts for years now, frequently creating cap space for a perennially cap-strapped franchise. David Tepper is familiar with Khan from his days as a part owner of the Steelers.

The Panthers have now interviewed a whopping 15 candidates, with two of those thus far receiving second summits. Caserio, Vikings GM George Paton and Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds are out of the mix. But many remain involved in Carolina’s latest GM search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Had Offered Omar Khan GM Job Before Hiring Nick Caserio

We’ve known for a few days now that the Texans’ process in hiring Nick Caserio didn’t sit well with Deshaun Watson, and as we get more details it’s not hard to see why.

It appears owner Cal McNair acted quite erratically, disregarding the advice of the search firm he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. The situation is even more bizarre than that though, as he had apparently already offered the job to Steelers exec Omar Khan before changing his mind at the last minute and pivoting to Caserio, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio adds the team was even in the midst of negotiating a contract with Khan at the time the decision was made.

Apparently, controversial executive Jack Easterby got McNair’s ear one last time before things were finalized, and convinced him to backtrack. The whole thing appears to be dysfunctional, which is Watson’s main source of frustration, and may cause him to demand a trade. Florio notes that agent Bob LaMonte represents both Caserio and Easterby, and a source told him LaMonte placed a phone call to McNair that also helped swing things.

LaMonte reportedly told McNair that Caserio was going to become GM of the Panthers if he didn’t hire him. Florio also reports that Texans team president Jamey Rootes is very upset with how everything has played out, and people around the league think he’s on the verge of an exit.

One source said Rootes already has tried to resign, but that he’s been convinced by McNair to hold off in order for the team not to look too chaotic right now. Given everything that has been trickling out, that might be impossible.

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.

GM Notes: Colts, Ballard, Jets, Douglas, Broncos, Kelly, Texans, Khan, Jaguars, Fontenot

We’ve been passing along a ton of notes on GM interviews and searches, so we thought we’d switch things up a little bit with a couple of non-vacancy related GM items. First off, Colts GM Chris Ballard has done a great job leading Indy through some bumpy times, and it sounds like he’s about to be rewarded. The Colts intend on extending his contract, which runs through May of 2022, before training camp starts in July, owner Jim Irsay told Zak Keefer of The Athletic. Head coach Frank Reich is under contract longer so his situation isn’t as pressing, but Irsay also told Keefer that Reich isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which obviously isn’t surprising.

Even after Josh McDaniels famously backed out of taking the head coaching job at the last minute, and even after Andrew Luck retired right before the start of last season, Ballard has done a commendable job keeping things steady and under control. He’s also made some great middle round draft picks, his blockbuster trade for DeForest Buckner has worked out really well, and his bold move to sign Philip Rivers this offseason resulted in an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. The Colts have a few question marks, but things seem well set up for the future, and Ballard will be the architect for a long time it sounds like.

Here’s more from front offices around the league:

  • The Jets fired Adam Gase this week, and when they hire a new head coach, there could be a change in the hierarchy to go with it. Recently Jets coaches and GMs have both reported directly to owners/chairman Woody and Christopher Johnson, which has led to a fair bit of drama and chaos. Now with Joe Douglas as GM, that might no longer be the case. Christopher raved about Douglas during his end of year media availability, and said “a change in structure is under consideration, no question,” meaning the new head coach may work under Douglas and report to him, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY tweets. It looks like Douglas is cementing his grip on power in the building this offseason, and the new head coach might not have as much clout within the building as guys like Gase, Todd Bowles, and Rex Ryan did.
  • Ok, now back to interviews. As soon as the Broncos announced their major shakeup yesterday with John Elway hiring a GM and giving up roster control, people highlighted Champ Kelly as a name to watch. Kelly, currently an exec with the Bears, was in Denver from 2007-14. Now the interest is official, as the team has requested an interview with him, Mike Klis of Denver 9 News tweets. It’s early in the process, but by all accounts Kelly is one of the favorites for the job. The most interesting thing to come out of this search though might be the dynamic between the new GM and Elway, who will still be lingering over the whole operation as president of football ops. It has the potential to get messy.
  • The Texans continued their search as they start from scratch in the post-Bill O’Brien era, interviewing Steelers exec Omar Khan on Monday. Khan has been in Pittsburgh in various roles since all the way back in 2001, and currently serves as their chief contract negotiator. He’s received a bit of GM buzz in the past, but not a ton.
  • Meanwhile, the Jaguars have requested to interview Saints assistant GM Terry Fontenot, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. We’ve already heard that Fontenot will interview with the Lions and Falcons, so he appears to be a hot candidate this time around. We heard yesterday that Fontenot is a “very strong” candidate for the Detroit job.

Panthers Notes: Newton, HC Candidates, Bradberry

Panthers QB Cam Newton will undergo foot surgery, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, Newton is expected to be fully ready and able by March. Rapoport says Carolina has not ruled out retaining Newton — not that the team would publicly say anything different — but the expectation remains that the Panthers will look to trade the former No. 1 overall pick,

The QB market may be unusually robust in 2020, and Newton may be the most desirable piece. The Panthers will not give Newton away, but if they “get a large deal to make it worth their while,” they will pull the trigger.

Now for more out of Charlotte:

  • Of course, what the Panthers do with Newton may depend on who they hire as their permanent head coach. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reiterates his view that the Panthers will seek an offensive-minded or QB-driven coach, and what that person thinks of Newton, Kyle Allen, and Will Grier could impact the club’s offseason plans in a big way.
  • In the same piece linked above, Rapoport suggests that owner David Tepper will of course be on the lookout for a top-flight coordinator and someone who is unafraid to embrace analytics, but he suggests that Tepper’s top priority will be a strong manager of people. RapSheet names ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, and Ravens OC Greg Roman as just a few of the possibilities.
  • Even if the Panthers retain GM Marty Hurney — which is not a guarantee — Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says Tepper, the former minority owner of the Steelers, could look to bring familiar faces from Pittsburgh to Carolina. Tepper plans to name an assistant general manager to focus on pro personnel evaluation and a vice president of football operations, and sources say he could be eyeing Steelers GM Kevin Colbert — whose contract is up at the end of the season — and/or vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan.
  • The Panthers have 28 players eligible for free agency this offseason, and Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic examines the decisions that the team will have to make with respect to a few of those players. The club just signed LB Shaq Thompson to a four-year extension, and Rodrigue’s source says the Panthers have made CB James Bradberry their next top priority.