Interviews

Steelers To Conduct Second GM Interview With Doug Whaley

Another candidate for the Steelers’ general manager position has emerged. The team will be conducting a second interview with Doug Whaley, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Steelers To Hold Second Interviews With Cowden, Spytek]

Whaley began his tenure in NFL front offices with the Steelers. He was hired by Pittsburgh in 2000 as a pro personnel coordinator, beginning years of tutelage under outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert. One decade later, he joined the Bills under the titles of assistant general manager and director of pro personnel, which he held for three seasons before becoming general manager.

Whaley’s tenure at the helm in Buffalo saw plenty of roster and coaching staff turnover. In 2015, he was part of the group that hired Rex Ryan as head coach – a stint which lasted less than two full seasons. More encouragingly, he was also involved in the hiring process for Ryan’s replacement, current HC Sean McDermott. It was during the latter’s first season that the team matched its best record under Whaley at 9-7.

Despite the lack of team success on the field – a result, in part, of decisions like trading up to draft Sammy Watkins fourth overall and signing Marcell Dareus to a lucrative contract – Whaley received an extension after the 2016 season. That came amidst speculation regarding his job security, ultimately becoming a moot point one year later. He was fired immediately after the 2017 draft.

That was the last time Whaley worked in an NFL front office. After a brief stint as a recruiter for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he was hired as a part of the re-started XFL. After the announcement of another re-booting of the league, it was announced in November he would regain his role working alongside the likes of Russ Brandon and Marc Ross.

With the news of a third second-interview candidate in Pittsburgh, here is an updated look at their search:

Steelers To Hold Second GM Interviews With Ryan Cowden, John Spytek

With the draft over, longtime Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s tenure in that role has officially come to an end. As a result, the team’s search for his replacement is now front and center. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (on Twitter) that second interviews will be conducted with Ryan Cowden and John Spytek, among others.

[RELATED: Colbert Officially Steps Down]

Cowden has been with the Titans since 2016. After 16 years in Carolina, Tennessee hired him to work in the player personnel department, and he has played a key role in the team’s recent success. As a result, he has generated interest in recent GM searches, including an interview with the Giants earlier this year for their opening and his first meeting with Pittsburgh one month later.

Spytek has followed an almost identical recent career path to Cowden. He too was hired in 2016 (after spending time as a scout with the Browns and Broncos) and has served as first director, then vice president, of player personnel for the Buccaneers. Likewise, his contributions to the team’s success has caught the attention of other clubs. He interviewed with the Vikings and Raiders before doing so with the Steelers this offseason.

As Garafolo notes, the list of candidates to be interviewed a second time will grow longer than these two. For now, though, here is an updated look at Pittsburgh’s search:

  • Morocco Brown, college scouting director (Colts): Interviewed
  • Ran Carthon, director of player personnel (49ers): Interviewed
  • Ryan Cowden, vice president of player personnel (Titans): To conduct second interview
  • Ed Dodds, assistant general manager (Colts): Interviewed 2/4
  • Joe Hortiz, director of player personnel (Ravens): Interviewed
  • Brandon Hunt, pro scouting director (Steelers): Interviewed
  • Omar Khan, vice president of football and business administration (Steelers): Interviewed
  • Dan Morgan, assistant general manager (Panthers): Interviewed
  • Jerry Reese, former general manager (Giants): Interviewed
  • Louis Riddick, former director of pro personnel (Eagles): Interviewed
  • Rick Spielman, former general manager (Vikings): Interviewed
  • John Spytek, director of player personnel (Buccaneers): To conduct second interview
  • Andy Weidl, vice president of player personnel (Eagles): Interviewed
  • Doug Whaley, vice president of player personnel (XFL): Interviewed
  • John Wojciechowski, co-director of player personnel (Packers): Interviewed
  • JoJo Wooden, director of player personnel (Chargers): Interviewed by 2/4

 

Draft Notes: Remaining QBs, Jets, Vikings, Burks, Johnson

One of the main storylines from last night’s first round was the fact that only one quarterback came off the board. The Steelers have their preferred choice in Kenny Pickett, but the other top options likely won’t have to wait long to hear their names called.

Jeff Howe of the Athletic reports (via Twitter) that “several teams” are trying to move up in the second round. As a result, there is “anticipation that a QB run could be on the way”. A number of teams could be interested in adding the likes of Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral as intriguing developmental options.

On that point, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer names the Titans, Falcons, Seahawks and Commanders as teams to watch for. He reports that “Ridder’s name has been consistently connected to Tennessee”, who now holds the 35th overall pick. The other teams have done significant work on signal-callers as well. Perhaps eyeing a passer, the Seahawks have made “exploratory calls” about moving up tonight, per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson (Twitter link).

Here are some other notes looking back on last night:

  • The Jets, as it has been reported, were willing to part with the No. 10 pick for Deebo Samuel. They almost made a different deal with that selection, though, as detailed by ESPN’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). New York wanted to swap with Seattle for No. 9 to avoid a team leapfrogging them to select Garrett Wilson. Both teams were able to successfully stand pat, ultimately getting Charles Cross and Wilson, respectively.
  • Not long after the top-10 was complete, the Vikings ceded the 12th overall pick to the Lions. With their second first-rounder, Detroit selected Jameson Williams, who may have been the pick at that spot had Minnesota kept it. Breer reports that the Alabama receiver “was very much in play ” for the Vikings, who added Lewis Cine and two Day 2 picks as a result of the deal.
  • Another of the top receivers to be taken last night was Treylon Burks, whom the Titans selected as a replacement for A.J. BrownWhen speaking to Pat McAfee, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Arkansas alum “was the guy Aaron Rodgers wanted” (video link). With him off the board, the Packers extended their streak of not using a Round 1 pick on a wideout, but he reports that they are a candidate to trade up for one tonight (video link).
  • One of the most surprising fallers on Thursday night was pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II. Part of the reason he was still on the board for the Jets at No. 25, Breer notes, was poor interviews with teams in the pre-draft process. Thought by some as a top-10 pick, he ended up with the Jets anyway, and figures to serve as a notable boost to their pass rush.

Steelers’ GM Interviews Continue

In what continues to be one of the widest ranging general manager searches in recent history, the Steelers announced three more interviews that took place earlier this week. Jerry Reese, Rick Spielman, and Doug Whaley were added to a list of interviewed candidates that now totals up to 16.

Reese is a former general manager for the Giants. Reese served 23 years in New York’s front office starting as a college scout and progressing through the roles of pro scout to director of player personnel and, eventually, to general manager. His first season as general manager saw the team win their first Super Bowl in 17 years, and the Giants earned a second ring under Reese just four years later. After a 2-10 start to the 2017 season, Reese was fired along with then-head coach Ben McAdoo in a rare midseason double canning. In the years since his firing, teams have reached out to Reese. In 2018, Reese turned down an interview for the Raiders’ general manager position that would eventually go to Mike Mayock. Last year, Reese interviewed for the Panthers’ and Jaguars’ open general manager jobs that eventually went to Scott Fitterer and Trent Baalke, respectively. This is the first time Reese’s name has been mentioned in general manager searches this year.

Spielman is a longtime veteran of NFL front offices who formerly served as the general manager for both the Dolphins and the Vikings. In 1990, Spielman started in Detroit as a college scout for five seasons before adding pro scouting responsibilities to his plate for two more. Spielman took on the position of director of pro personnel for the Bears in 1997 and, three years later, took a similar role as vice president of player personnel in Miami. In four seasons, Spielman elevated to senior vice president of football operations to eventually spend one season as the team’s general manager. Spielman left the role and worked 2005 with ESPN as an NFL analyst before returning to football as the vice president of player personnel for the Vikings the next year. After six seasons in that role, Spielman was elevated to general manager, a position he held until being fired a little over two months ago. For the Vikings, Spielman saw success in all aspects of player acquisition bringing in contributors like wide receiver Mike Wallace through trade and quarterback Kirk Cousins through free agency. He also had an eye for undrafted talent, signing the likes of safety Andrew Sendejo and wide receiver Adam Thielen. This is the first job interest he’s received since being fired earlier this year.

Whaley is another former NFL general manager, this time for the Bills. He began his NFL career as a pro personnel coordinator for the Steelers in 2000. For ten years he worked under Kevin Colbert and is credited with helping to scout and draft such defensive stars as pass rusher Lamarr Woodley, safety Troy Polamalu, and linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Whaley was eventually named the assistant general manager and director of pro personnel for the Bills in 2010. Three years later, Whaley took over for Buddy Nix as general manager. He notably moved up in the draft to select wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a move questioned by some as fellow receivers Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., and Brandin Cooks were picked later in the same draft. He also notably traded linebacker Kiko Alonso for running back LeSean McCoy in 2015, seeing McCoy enjoy great success for the next three years as a Bill. Whaley was relieved of his duties following the 2017 NFL Draft and became a recruiter for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl for a season before getting hired as the senior vice president of football operations for the XFL. He was shortly laid off due to COVID-19, but was rehired recently as the league’s vice president of player personnel. Like the other two names above, this is the first mention of interest in Whaley this year.

The Steelers continue to search far and wide in their efforts to replace Colbert. Stay up to date on the search through our 2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker.

Steelers Continue Interviews To Replace GM Colbert

With the announcement that general manager Kevin Colbert will be stepping down after the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers have been working to find his eventual replacement. Today the team tweeted out three more names that interviewed for the position this week: Ravens’ director of player personnel Joe Hortiz, 49ers’ director of player personnel Ran Carthon, and Eagles’ vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team has also interviewed their vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan, someone we had mentioned as a candidate but had not yet reported as interviewed. Schefter also listed the team’s pro scouting director Brandon Hunt as a candidate who had been interviewed. This is the first time we’ve seen Hunt’s name mentioned in the conversations to replace Colbert.

To date Pittsburgh has interviewed 12 candidates, not including ESPN analyst Louis Riddick who was reportedly scheduled to interview for the position earlier this month.

With two months until the Draft, the Steelers appear in no hurry to make a decision. They will likely continue to take their time evaluating their prospects. Be sure to follow along with the latest on our 2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker.

Steelers To Interview Louis Riddick For GM

The search for a new general manager in Pittsburgh has led the team to Louis Riddick. The ESPN analyst is scheduled for an interview (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network).

[Related: Steelers Interview Three GM Candidates]

The 52-year-old began his front office career as a scout in Washington in 2001. He spent seven years there, then an additional six with the Eagles. The final four seasons of that time, in which he was Philadelphia’s director of pro personnel, represent his most senior job title. He has been out of the NFL since 2013, most recently working as an analyst on Monday Night Football. Last offseason, though, he received GM interest from the Lions, Texans and Jaguars.

A Pennsylvania native, Riddick played college football at Pitt, so he would certainly represent a hometown candidate to replace Kevin Colbert. He will be the fourth external candidate to interview for the role, though there are no details on when the sit-down will take place.

Here is where the Steelers’ GM search stands so far:

Vikings Interview Anthony Weaver For DC

The Vikings’ search for a new defensive coordinator continues. The latest candidate to meet with the team is Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link).

[Related: Vikings Request Interview With Lions’ Aubrey Pleasant]

Weaver represents the second name to be linked to the opening since is was reported that Mike Pettine could be the favorite for the position. Even if the latter does ultimately land the job, Minnesota is at least doing its due diligence.

Weaver, 41, has already conducted interviews twice for DC roles lately. One was with the Ravens, where he spent the beginning of his playing career, along with the 2021 season as the team’s d-line coach and running game coordinator. The other was with the Broncos. Having started coaching only two years after his playing days were over, Weaver has been on NFL sidelines since 2012. While his most frequent role has been a position coach with defensive linemen, he does have one year of experience (Houston, in 2020) as a DC.

With multiple options to consider, the Vikings should ultimately end up with either a defensive signal-caller who has garnered plenty of interest recently, or one with a plethora of experience holding the role. Either way, new head coach Kevin O’Connell is likely to have his first DC in place sooner rather than later.

Coaching Rumors: Saints, Texans, McDaniel, Giants, Broncos

The Saints began their cycle of head coaching interviews this week, conducting meetings with the following candidates: former Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson (1/30; hired by Jaguars), former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores (2/1), Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn (2/2), their current special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi (2/3), their current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen (2/4), and Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (2/6).

New Orleans also requested permission to interview Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. There were some early reports that permission had been granted, but that hasn’t been confirmed and nothing has been scheduled, as of yet. ESPN’s Saints’ reporter Mike Triplett also mentioned that current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was offered an opportunity to interview for the position, but Carmichael declined. Despite being a part of Sean Payton‘s staff since Payton’s tenure in New Orleans began back in 2006, it appears Carmichael has no interest in running the show in the Big Easy. Whether he has retirement or another destination in mind or he is just comfortable in his role, Carmichael will not be the Saints’ next head coach.

Here are a few more notes from the ongoing coaching searches and staff changes throughout the NFL, starting with the other head coaching vacancy:

  • Houston recently narrowed their list of head coaching candidates down to three: Brian Flores, former quarterback Josh McCown, and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Well, according to USA Today’s Josina Anderson, the Texans are now down to two candidates, with Gannon being informed Saturday that he will not be receiving the head coaching position, leaving Flores and McCown as the two remaining names.
  • New Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel reportedly has interest in holding on to some of the defensive assistants currently under contract in Miami, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This includes current defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who followed Flores to Miami from New England. The lack of staff turnover would be a positive for a defensive unit that played well during the team’s seven-game win-streak in the back half of the season.
  • The Giants were able to add a piece to Brian Daboll‘s new staff while missing out on another today. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweeted out that Andy Bischoff will become the Giants’ new tight ends coach. Bischoff followed David Culley from Baltimore to Houston and will make the lateral move over from the Texans with their head coaching position still in the air. Unfortunately, the Giants did not get their running backs coach, as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweeted out that Deland McCullough has turned down Daboll’s offer, choosing instead to remain the running backs coach at Notre Dame, believing it gives him the best opportunity to eventually become a head coach.
  • New Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett is also looking to fill out his staff. The Broncos are planning to interview Jon Embree who most recently held the position of tight ends coach/assistant head coach in San Francisco. Embree parted ways with the Niners after being asked to take a 60 percent pay cut after San Francisco’s NFC Championship loss. The man who has coached George Kittle since he was drafted in 2017 would be a nice addition to Hackett’s system.

Texans Conducting Second Interview With Brian Flores

Another finalist has emerged in the Texans’ head coaching search. Brian Flores is conducting a second interview today, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

[Related: Texans Giving Josh McCown Second Interview]

Like many second interviews this year, this one will be in person, as opposed to being conducted virtually. Overall, though, Pelissero notes that “the sides have spoken multiple times”. The 40-year-old has ties to general manager Nick Caserio dating back to their time together in New England. That Patriots-Caserio connection has, of course, led to both Flores and Pats linebackers coach Jerod Mayo being listed as favorites once they were announced as candidates.

Instead, the two others that have already received second interviews are former quarterback Josh McCown and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Houston is currently the only team to have had interest in McCown so far, while Gannon has also met with the Broncos and Vikings.

The biggest domino in Houston, regardless of the new head coach, is quarterback Deshaun Watson. Many feel that Flores’ hiring would be the only way the maligned signal caller could remain with the Texans, given their desire to work together. While Houston still intends to trade Watson, Flores’ presence as a finalist for the HC job certainly raises the possibility of things taking another turn.

Colts To Interview Three More DC Candidates

The list of potential Matt Eberflus replacements continues to grow for Indianapolis. The Indy Star’s Joel Erickson reports (via Twitter) that the Colts will be interviewing three more candidates for the defensive coordinator position: Raiders DC Gus Bradley, Cowboys secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. and Saints defensive backs coach Kris Richard

The team met with Jaguars DC Joe Cullen, as well as WFT DBs coach Chris Harris, last week. Then, it came out yesterday that they will also be interviewing longtime DC Jim Schwartzwho has most recently held the title of senior defensive assistant with the Titans.

Bradley was hired by the Raiders last January, in an attempt to bring in an experienced defensive mind to a team desperate for success in the second Jon Gruden era. The 55-year-old had served as DC with the Chargers, following four-year stints as head coach of the Jaguars and DC of the Seahawks during the ‘Legion of Boom’ era.

As for Whitt, an interview request is certainly nothing new. Each of the SeahawksRavens and Steelers met with him as potential replacements for their previous DCs. His work in Dallas this season contributed to the defense’s surprising performance, led on the back end by Trevon Diggs‘ league-leading 11 interceptions. At the age of 43, he has been an NFL position coach dating back to 2007, but has yet to be a DC at any level.

Richard has also generated DC interest this year. Just like Whitt, he has already received requests from Baltimore and Pittsburgh for their vacancies. The 42-year-old has spent most of coaching career in Seattle, including a three year stint as DC from 2015-2017. Since then, he’s been the DBs coach for the Cowboys, and, this past season, the Saints. If Dennis Allen takes over as HC in New Orleans, as is expected, Richard’s path back to a DC role may come via an internal promotion, rather than an external hire.

Erickson notes that these three interviews will take place today and tomorrow, which should bring the Colts one step closer to making a DC hire sometime in the coming days.