Alonzo Highsmith

Jonathan Kraft Heavily Involved In Patriots’ Draft Plans; Michael Penix Jr. On Radar

Patriots preparations for their previous 24 drafts featured no questions as to who ran the show. As the franchise pushed its Super Bowl count to 10 and championship number to six, it relied on Bill Belichick to make the call. While some memorable misses took place, the legendary HC certainly fared well in this role as the team regularly built stout defenses around Tom Brady.

This year, the Pats enter the draft with an unusual setup. Eliot Wolf is in place as the de facto GM, but the team is planning to conduct interviews after the draft. It would be quite odd — given the decision the team faces at No. 3 overall — if ownership would consider giving someone else final say post-draft after letting Wolf potentially choose a long-term QB option. Days away from the draft, a quarterback pick is indeed the expectation for the suddenly rebuilding squad.

As the Patriots consider a potential trajectory-altering pick at 3, another key voice has emerged alongside Wolf. Patriots president Jonathan Kraft is “heavily involved” in the team’s pre-draft decision-making process, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. The son of owner Robert Kraft, Jonathan has been with the organization since his father acquired it in the 1990s. While Russini adds Wolf is running the show, the younger Kraft’s involvement obviously generates questions.

Owners regularly intervene in draft decisions, though a clearly defined hierarchy — one that features football-ops personnel leading the way — is certainly the best path for an organization to take regarding high-stakes decisions. Jonathan Kraft playing a major role would mark a significant change for the Patriots, who obviously relied on Belichick for decades. Wolf’s opportunity coming with heavy ownership intervention would be an interesting start to his GM run — if that should indeed commence — with the Patriots would be interesting, as this is the second-generation personnel man’s first opportunity to lead a front office.

As for which way the Patriots are going at No. 3, signs point to them keeping the pick and drafting a quarterback. Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy have fans in the building, per’s Albert Breer, continuing a theme for a team that will probably see both the North Carolina and Michigan prospects on the board when it goes on the clock. The Pats brought a large contingent to Maye’s pro day. In addition to Wolf and Jerod Mayo, Breer adds OC Alex Van Pelt, senior offensive assistant Ben McAdoo, QBs coach T.C. McCartney and front office staffers Alonzo Highsmith, Matt Groh, Pat Stewart and Camren Williams also have input in this pivotal draft decision.

New England has also made it known it would be willing to trade the pick, but as of late last week, no offers strong enough are believed to have emerged. That said, Michael Penix Jr. fans reside in the organization. Penix is not expected to be a top-three pick, pointing to the Washington-developed southpaw being in play if the Pats pull the trigger on trading down. In fact, Breer adds the Patriots’ late Penix visit came about because they could be interested in nabbing him following a trade-down maneuver.

Some NFL personnel believe the Patriots will, in fact, trade down,’s Tony Pauline adds. If the Patriots move back, it adds a significant wrinkle to this year’s top five. But if the Vikings or Broncos — both closely connected to moving up for a passer — make a strong enough offer the Pats agree to slide out of the top 10, Pauline adds a belief around the NFL exists indicating the Pats would then select Penix in the middle of Round 1. Our Ely Allen detailed the former Indiana and Washington starter’s prospect profile recently.

The Vikings hold No. 11 overall; the Broncos sit at No. 12. Those spots could be notable, as the Raiders — who are believed to be interested in Penix — sit at No. 13. The Patriots taking this route would bring controversy, given their chances of bringing Maye or McCarthy to Foxborough at 3. But they would add at least a 2025 first-round pick (and almost definitely more) if they moved the pick to Minnesota or Denver. The Giants are also believed to be interested in moving up, with Maye-New York buzz increasing over the past several days. The Pats would not collect as much if they dropped from 3 to 6, however.

Jonathan Kraft is believed to have advised against his father moving on from Belichick after the 2022 season, but the team powered forward with that separation — amid a feud between the accomplished HC and Robert Kraft — after a 4-13 season. Whichever way the Patriots go in this year’s first round, it certainly seems like the younger Kraft will have a notable say in the matter.

Eliot Wolf Expected To Control Pats’ Roster

Eliot Wolf interviewed for GM gigs in the past. It now looks like the veteran exec has one, just without the title. Mentioned earlier as the likeliest exec to be running the show in New England post-Bill Belichick, Wolf is indeed expected to be at the top of the Patriots’ front office structure this year.

The second-generation personnel man is expected to have control of the Pats’ 53-man roster, according to’s Ian Rapoport. Wolf, 41, will work closely with new HC Jerod Mayo; when it comes to final say, however, it is expected Wolf will hold the power Belichick wielded for so long. Wolf most recently held the title of scouting director in New England, but Rapoport adds Matt Groh is expected to be in charge of the team’s college scouting.

Wolf’s influence can be felt early this offseason. The Patriots have hired ex-Packers assistants Alex Van Pelt, Ben McAdoo, Jerry Montgomery and Alonzo Highsmith. The latter, who worked with Wolf in Green Bay and Cleveland, will hold the title of senior personnel executive, Rapoport adds.

This will represent a belated rise for Wolf, whom the Packers considered as Ted Thompson‘s GM successor in 2018. The team instead promoted Brian Gutekunst, and Wolf joined Highsmith in leaving for Cleveland. The Browns installed Wolf as their assistant GM under John Dorsey. Following Dorsey’s 2020 ouster, Wolf and Highsmith worked as consultants in Seattle. While Highsmith stayed, Wolf left to become part of the Pats’ then-Belichick-led front office.

Wolf interviewed for the Colts’ GM job back in 2017 and has been on the GM radar elsewhere in the recent past. The Bears and Vikings considered Wolf for their GM openings in 2022, respectively hiring Ryan Poles and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The Patriots also gave Groh the title of player personnel director in 2022, keeping Wolf as their scouting director under Belichick. Following the latter’s exit, it appears Eliot Wolf will follow in his father’s footsteps as the top personnel man in an organization.

Longtime Al Davis right-hand man Ron Wolf later served as Packers GM from 1991-2001. This span included the Packers acquiring Brett Favre from the Falcons and signing Reggie White to close his much-publicized free agency tour a year later. Those pillars became all-time greats, solidifying their legacies in Green Bay while helping snap a near-30-year Super Bowl drought for Titletown. While Eliot Wolf did not join Green Bay’s front office until 2004, he worked with the organization his father transformed for nearly 15 years. Eliot climbed to the director of football operations position by 2016.

Given Belichick’s towering presence within the organization for 24 years, Wolf will naturally step into a high-pressure spot. Though, Belichick did not account himself especially well on the personnel side in recent years. The team’s post-Tom Brady decline does make the the prioritizing of continuity interesting here, but Wolf, Groh and Mayo will be in charge of leading this reconstruction effort — one that will include the No. 3 overall pick, the highest Patriots draft choice since 1993.

Pats To Add Alonzo Highsmith To Front Office

The Patriots replaced Bill Belichick the coach but not the GM. New England’s general manager position is vacant, pointing to a setup in which the team entrusts front office leadership to someone not holding the traditional title.

On that note, the team is making a pivotal hire. Alonzo Highsmith will return to the NFL and take on an unspecified role with the Patriots, according to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman. Highsmith has been back at his alma mater, Miami, since leaving the Seahawks midway through the 2022 offseason. Highsmith will travel to New England to discuss the new position today, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets.

[RELATED: Steve Belichick Hired As Washington DC]

This will reunite Highsmith with longtime Packers coworker Eliot Wolf. The latter remains with the Patriots as their director of scouting. The second-generation personnel man should still be viewed, post-Belichick, as someone who wields power in the New England front office, The Athletic’s Chad Graff adds, going as far as to posit that Wolf is poised to become the Pats’ top decision-maker.’s Albert Breer also labels Wolf as the top current Pats executive.

Wolf’s influence could also be seen on the Pats’ new coaching staff. Ex-Green Bay assistant Alex Van Pelt is in place as OC, while the team has also hired former Packers staffer Ben McAdoo and D-line coach Jerry Montgomery. Highsmith and Wolf both worked together in Green Bay, Cleveland and Seattle. They signed on as Seahawks consultants in 2020, though Wolf eventually left to join the Patriots.

Highsmith and Wolf trekked to Ohio in 2018, when the Packers promoted Brian Gutekunst to GM. The ex-Ted Thompson staffers’ time working together in multiple cities certainly suggests Highsmith will be assigned a prominent role in New England. Highsmith, 58, left the Seahawks to become the GM of the Miami football program. Though, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes the Hurricanes role was a bit lesser than the title would suggest. Highsmith worked on scouting potential transfers and was involved with the ACC program’s budget, The Athletic’s Manny Navarro adds.

While the Patriots have operated without a true GM throughout the 21st century, Belichick’s exit leaves some uncertainty in the front office. Wolf, 41, is in his 20th year as an NFL exec. The son of Hall of Famer Ron Wolf, Eliot has interviewed for GM gigs in the past. He rose to the role of assistant GM under John Dorsey in Cleveland and was elevated to his present director of scouting role with the Patriots in 2022. Wolf’s experience would make his appointment as a de facto Patriots GM sensible, if, in fact, that is the direction the organization is going.

As for Highsmith, the former NFL running back — the No. 3 overall pick in 1987 — has been on the scouting side for a while and held a key role under Thompson during the 2010s. The Browns hired him as their VP of player personnel in 2018. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots reshape their front office. As of now, ex-Packers staffers look set to make a serious post-Belichick imprint in Foxborough.

Seahawks’ Alonzo Highsmith To Join Miami Hurricanes’ Staff

An NFL executive for more than two decades, Alonzo Highsmith spent nearly two years with the Seahawks. The former running back will wrap his Seattle tenure, however, and return to Miami.

A key figure on a few dominant Hurricanes teams in the 1980s, Highsmith accepted a position with the ACC school’s athletic department, according to Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Highsmith was a candidate to become Miami’s athletic director in December, per Hyde, and will assist new Hurricanes AD Dan Radakovich going forward.

Highsmith, 57, signed on as a part-time Seahawks exec early in 2020, following a departure from the Browns. John Dorsey brought Highsmith to Cleveland from Green Bay, marking a multiyear reunion. When the Browns pushed Dorsey aside after the 2019 season, however, their new front office plan did not include Highsmith. After serving as a Seahawks consultant during the 2020 offseason, Highsmith was one of the front office’s key figures over the past two years.

The Seahawks have lost multiple John Schneider lieutenants over the past year and change. Highsmith follows Scott Fitterer out of Seattle; Fitterer is now the Panthers’ GM. Highsmith had worked with Schneider for many years in Green Bay, wrapping a 19-year Packers tenure in 2018.

The Oilers drafted Highsmith third overall in 1987, but knee injuries limited his success in the pros. After making a transition to scouting in the 1990s, Highsmith will make another big move out of the NFL nearly 30 years later.

Seahawks Hire Alonzo Highsmith For Full-Time Role

Alonzo Highsmith has gone from a Seahawks consultant to a full-time Seattle employee, as Brady Henderson of tweetsHighsmith is now listed as a “personnel executive” on the team website, signaling a larger and more permanent role within the front office.

[RELATED: Carlos Hyde Underwent Shoulder Surgery]

Highsmith was a top lieutenant in John Dorsey‘s front office, up until Dorsey was replaced by Andrew Berry. In February, his Packers ties helped lead him to Seattle, working under John Schneider as a freelancer.

Highsmith hasn’t been afraid to go against the grain of the modern NFL, relying more on game tape than newfangled analytics. The 55-year-old has spent most of his adult life in football, having played in the NFL from 1987 through 1992. Then, he took a brief foray into boxing where he amassed a 27-1-2 record in the heavyweight division. In 2012, he began the third act of his career by joining the Packers in a senior front office role.

Meanwhile, there’s lots of work ahead for the Seahawks, even after the signing of 1,000-yard rusher Carlos Hyde. They may also be in the market for a starting-caliber cornerback, depending on how things go for Quinton Dunbar.

Seahawks To Hire Alonzo Highsmith, Eliot Wolf As Consultants

Recently let go following the Browns’ latest GM change, Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf have secured pre-draft roles elsewhere. The Seahawks will bring the execs in as consultants during the lead-up to the draft, Mike Garafolo of tweets.

Both staffers have lengthy histories in Green Bay, just as Seattle GM John Schneider does. Schneider and Wolf worked together with the Packers, while Highsmith began a six-year Green Bay tenure shortly after Schneider left for the Seattle job. Each left the Packers to work as John Dorsey‘s right-hand men with the Browns, but with Dorsey’s Cleveland tenure stopping after two years, his lieutenants are now on the market.

Wolf has interviewed for multiple GM jobs in the recent past, venturing to Cleveland after the Packers promoted Brian Gutekunst to that role in early 2018. The son of Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf, Eliot worked with Schneider in Green Bay from 2004-09 and was a 15-year Packers staffer. Wolf worked as Dorsey’s assistant GM; Highsmith served as the Browns’ VP of player personnel.

Both Wolf and Highsmith figure to have options. For now, they will help a Seahawks team that’s become known for draft-weekend moves.

Browns, Alonzo Highsmith Part Ways

The Browns and VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith have mutually agreed to part ways, per a club announcement. Highsmith previously worked alongside new GM Andrew Berry, but he won’t have a role in Berry’s own front office. Ditto for assistant GM Eliot Wolf, according to’s Chris Mortensen (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Browns Hire Andrew Berry As GM]

Highsmith’s contract was set to run through the 2021 NFL Draft. Instead, he leaves just before the heat of the 2020 offseason. Wolf, meanwhile, was contracted through the 2022 draft.

Highsmith and Wolf joined the Browns in January of 2018. Over the last two years, they’ve been connected to a few other notable front office jobs around the league, so they probably won’t be out of work for long. Before that, Highsmith and Wolf served under John Dorsey in Green Bay, which is what led them to Cleveland in the first place.

Berry won the Browns’ GM job after fellow top candidate George Paton withdrew his name from consideration. Reportedly, Paton had serious reservations about the power structure in Cleveland, where the GM and new head coach Kevin Stefanski would be reporting directly to owner Jimmy Haslam. Berry, apparently, is comfortable with the structure, and he’s been given the OK to shape his own team as he sees fit.

AFC Notes: Browns, Titans, Texans

Once thought to be the Browns‘ top choice for their latest GM vacancy, George Paton backed out of the race. However, a deal may not have been imminent. The Browns had yet to make Paton an offer, according to Albert Breer of Paton’s reasons for backing out of the Cleveland search are not totally clear, but Breer confirms an issue with Jimmy Haslam‘s organizational hierarchy was one of them. Most of the Browns’ GM candidates had an issue with Haslam’s setup — in which the GM, Kevin Stefanski and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta report directly to the owner — and Paton was not an exception, Breer adds. With the Browns since bringing Andrew Berry back to Cleveland as the NFL’s youngest GM (at 32), Haslam has now worked with six GMs or front office heads since buying the team in 2012. While Breer notes Paton was seriously considering taking the job after the first interview went well, the frequently hesitant Vikings exec will stay in his assistant GM post in Minnesota.

Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Although the Browns are set up on an analytics front, their scouting experience in the front office is less certain. John Dorsey hired both assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, but each longtime exec worked with Berry when he was still with the team in 2018. Highsmith’s contract runs through the 2021 draft, and Wolf’s goes through the ’22 draft, Breer adds.
  • An intra-AFC South coaching move occurred Tuesday. The Titans poached Texans defensive backs coach Anthony Midget, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Midget, who’d been with Houston throughout Bill O’Brien‘s six-season tenure, received the head coach-GM’s permission to interview with Tennessee, per Paul Kuharsky of Paul (Twitter link). He will hold the same job with the Titans next season, replacing Kerry Coombs.
  • The Texans will replace Midget in-house, promoting assistant secondary coach D’Anton Lynn to the top DBs role, Wilson adds. Lynn, 30, is the son of Chargers HC Anthony Lynn and has been with the Texans since 2018.
  • Texans backup center Greg Mancz underwent ankle surgery, according to Wilson. A five-year veteran and 28-game starter in his time with the Texans, Mancz underwent an arthroscopic procedure and is expected to be ready for Texans OTAs. The former UDFA originally injured the ankle during the preseason.

Latest On Browns’ Coaching & GM Search

The Browns have their new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, but they still need a new GM after firing John Dorsey. They recently requested an interview with Eagles exec Andrew Berry, and Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweets that he’s “at the front of the GM candidates.”

Robinson notes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam once said he considered Berry a future GM, and that he has a relationship with chief strategist Paul DePodesta. In a separate tweet, Robinson explains that it may come down to whether or not Berry wants to take the job. He notes that Berry, who used to work in Cleveland under former GM Sashi Brown, is only 32 and in a good situation in Philly. He also writes that Berry will likely get other calls if he passes on the job.

As for the search that ultimately ended in Stefanski, Robinson has some interesting new nuggets. He tweets that Josh McDanielswanted a specific structure with the Browns” and that he “wasn’t going to an org where DePodesta or anyone else was a ‘side jury’ reporting to Haslam.” If that’s the case, then it sounds like McDaniels never got too close to landing in Cleveland despite his lengthy visit. The Browns and Haslam have caught plenty of flak for their odd reporting structures, and it sounds like that was an issue once again this time around. 

Robinson also tweets that both Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh “had very good interviews” and that he thinks they were the finalists along with Stefanski. Both should be hot names during next cycle. As for Stefanski’s staff, Robinson tweets that the rookie head coach will likely target either Gary or Klint Kubiak. The Kubiaks were on staff with Stefanski in Minnesota, although Robinson thinks the Vikings will try to retain both. Either could be a candidate to be Cleveland’s new OC assuming Stefanski hires one.

Finally, Robinson tweeted about the future prospects for assistant GM Eliot Wolf and VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. He thinks the Haslams are open to both staying, and that Wolf will have a conversation with whoever the new GM is about a role.

Extra Points: Browns, Ryan, 49ers, Texans

As we heard Sunday, Browns VP of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith indicated Sam Darnold was his preferred quarterback until late in the draft process. Baker Mayfield then became the consensus choice. However, the first-year Browns exec had one interesting reason for being less interested in Josh Rosen, whom the Browns worked out at UCLA and hosted on a visit.

I was at an airport. UCLA’s volleyball team was in front of me. You heard so much about Rosen. He’s this or that,” Highsmith said, via “We all know how people talk. So I asked one of the volleyball coaches, ‘What’s Rosen like?’ He said, ‘Aaaaa, you should probably ask his girlfriend. She’s one of the players. She’s over there. I’m like, ‘All right, coach. That’s good enough.’

I don’t know what all this means, but there was something about him that bothered me.”

The Browns were not connected closely to Rosen, the least mobile of this year’s top QB contingent but also the player who could well be the readiest to start in Week 1, and they preferred a more mobile passer. But this candor is rather interesting and may not age well if Rosen has a strong rookie year for the Cardinals. It’s not the first time a key Browns exec’s made a comment on a quarterback they bypassed.

As for Allen, Highsmith wasn’t interested in hearing excuses for why the Wyoming player couldn’t complete 57 percent of his passes in either of his two years as a starter.

Josh Allen … big arm … he could throw the ball from here to the moon,” Highsmith said. “When they have to make excuses … why are they not completing passes? That’s a problem. Baker Mayfield lost two receivers (from the 2016 team) and he was the same quarterback.”

  • In addition to Matt Ryan‘s five-year, $150MM Falcons extension being a per-year record, it contains the most Year 1 money in NFL history. The 11th-year quarterback will take home $52.5MM in 2018, Dan Graziano of reports. However, Matthew Stafford still holds the signing bonus record. Ryan will see a $46.5MM bonus, per Graziano. That’s just shy of Stafford’s record $50MM signing bonus agreed to last year.
  • Elvis Dumervil is currently without a team after the 49ers did not pick up his option. The 49ers did not draft an edge defender this year, and John Lynch indicated Dumervil — his teammate for two seasons with the Broncos — could be brought back and may not need a full offseason in what would be his 13th year. “Yeah, I think it could be,” Lynch said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) of a possible reunion with the 34-year-old pass rusher. “I’m sure a lot of (teams) are looking at it as such. Elvis isn’t a guy who at this stage of his career really needs to be around in an offseason. He’s a professional. He takes tremendous pride in how he trains, how he eats and all those things. So he’ll be ready.” Lynch mentioned the 49ers plan to evaluate some younger players for pass-rushing roles, though, so it could be a while before a possible reunion commences. Dumervil made $4.5MM with San Francisco last season and registered a team-high 6.5 sacks.
  • The Texans are moving second-year cornerback Treston Decoud to safety, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets. A 2017 fifth-round pick, Decoud played in 10 games for the Texans as a rookie. Decoud played cornerback in both of his seasons at Oregon State. He’s the younger brother of former longtime Falcons safety Thomas Decoud. Houston signed Tyrann Mathieu in free agency and drafted Justin Reid with its first 2018 pick, a third-rounder, so Treston Decoud could stay a depth piece at his new position.
  • Houston’s revamp of its scouting department will see the franchise hire nine-year Patriots staffer James Liipfert as the new director of college scouting, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Liipfert will succeed Jon Carr in this role. Having been with the Patriots during each year Bill O’Brien was, Liipfert served the past three seasons with the Patriots as a national scout after previously being an area scout.