Joe Schoen

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured GMs

Wednesday, we took a look at how the 2022 offseason changed the HC landscape. While 10 new sideline leaders are in place for 2022, not quite as much turnover transpired on the general manager front. Five new decision-makers, however, have moved to the top of teams’ front office hierarchies over the past six months.

The Bears, Giants, Raiders and Vikings rebooted their entire operations, hiring new HC-GM combos. The Minnesota move bumped out one of the previous top-10 longest-tenured GMs, with 16-year Vikings exec Rick Spielman no longer in power in the Twin Cities. The Steelers’ shakeup took the NFL’s longest-tenured pure GM out of the mix. Kevin Colbert was with the Steelers since 2000, and although he is still expected to remain with the team in a reduced capacity, the 22-year decision-maker stepped down shortly after Ben Roethlisberger wrapped his career.

Twelve teams have now hired a new GM in the past two offseasons, though a bit more staying power exists here compared to the HC ranks. Two GMs (the Cardinals’ Steve Keim and Chargers’ Tom Telesco) have begun their 10th years at the helms of their respective front offices. They have hired three HCs apiece. The Buccaneers’ Jason Licht is closing in on a decade in power in Tampa Bay; Licht will now work with his fourth HC in Todd Bowles. Beyond that, a bit of a gap exists. But a handful of other executives have been in power for at least five seasons.

Here is how long every GM or de facto GM has been in place with his respective franchise:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  5. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010; signed extension in 2021
  6. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010; signed extension in 2022
  7. Les Snead (Los Angeles Rams): February 10, 2012; signed extension in 2019
  8. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013; signed extension in 2022
  9. Tom Telesco (Los Angeles Chargers): January 9, 2013; signed extension in 2018
  10. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014; signed extension in 2021
  11. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016[4]
  12. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016; signed extension in 2022
  13. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  14. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017; signed extension in 2021
  15. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  16. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017; signed extension in 2020
  17. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  18. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
  19. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  20. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  21. Nick Caserio (Houston Texans): January 5, 2021
  22. George Paton (Denver Broncos): January 13, 2021
  23. Scott Fitterer (Carolina Panthers): January 14, 2021
  24. Brad Holmes (Detroit Lions): January 14, 2021
  25. Terry Fontenot (Atlanta Falcons): January 19, 2021
  26. Trent Baalke (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 21, 2021
  27. Martin Mayhew (Washington Commanders): January 22, 2021
  28. Joe Schoen (New York Giants): January 21, 2022
  29. Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears): January 25, 2022
  30. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings): January 26, 2022
  31. Dave Ziegler (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  32. Omar Khan (Pittsburgh Steelers): May 24, 2022

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Although Grier was hired in 2016, he became the Dolphins’ top football exec on Dec. 31, 2018

2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

Along with the head coaches being fired, a few NFL teams are looking for new general managers. 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 5-24-22 (9:03pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Giants Release James Bradberry

James Bradberry‘s time with the Giants has finally come to an end. The team announced on Monday that they have released the veteran corner. 

It was reported last week that a release was inevitable in this case. From the beginning of the offseason, Bradberry, 28, was named as a cut candidate, owing to his scheduled cap hit of over $21.8MM. New general manager Joe Schoen made a number of cost-cutting moves throughout March, but held on to Bradberry in the hopes of finding a trade partner.

For a time, it was believed the former second-round pick was drawing trade interest, as teams with sufficient cap space would presumably be willing to acquire him via that route. However, Schoen recently admitted that he was surprised at how cool the market was for the Pro Bowler.

“I thought there would be more interest” he said on WFAN Sports Radio, via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan“There were some teams that showed interest pre-draft, and we had a couple different times [where] there [was] compensation in place and the contract never worked out.”

Bradberry has only missed five games during his six-year career, which began with the Panthers. In 2021, his second campaign with the Giants, he played in all 17 contests, totalling 47 tackles, a career-high four interceptions and 17 passes defensed. By releasing him, the Giants will leave over $11.7MM on the books in dead money, but gain over $10.1MM in much-needed cap space.

“It’s just where we are financially” Schoen added. “We still got to sign our draft picks, be able to sign our practice squad and have replacement costs for during the season.”

Now, Bradberry will hit the open market as arguably the top free agent available at any position. Given his age, production and, now, the lack of his previous contract as an impediment, he should have plenty of suitors amongst teams seeking starting-caliber help in the secondary.

NFL Front Office Notes: Ventrelle, Raiders, Patriots, Giants, Bears

Headlines were made yesterday when the Raiders released a statement from owner Mark Davis that team president Dan Ventrelle was “no longer with the Raiders organization.” Ventrelle had been promoted from executive vice president and interim president, after the resignation of Marc Badain, following the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season.

In an article from The Athletic, we learned that Ventrelle alleged he had been fired in retaliation for telling the NFL about concerns over a hostile workplace environment. Ventrelle’s statement was as follows:

“I have committed almost 18 years of my life to the success of the Raiders as General Counsel and President. I take that responsibility very seriously, which is why multiple written complaints from employees that (Davis) created a hostile work environment and engaged in other potential misconduct caused me grave concern.

“When Mark was confronted about these issues, he was dismissive and did not demonstrate the warranted level of concern. Given this, I informed the NFL of these issues of Mark’s unacceptable response. Soon thereafter, I was fired in retaliation for raising these concerns.”

Here are a few more notes from around the NFL, starting with another note from Sin City:

  • Despite the loss of the team president, Las Vegas has been busy filling out their front office staff. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer tweeted out that Las Vegas was working towards bringing in Patriots national scout Brandon Yeargan to replace Jim Abrams as the team’s new college scouting director. Also, Pete Thamel of ESPN reported the addition of Dolphins college scout Lenny McGill to serve as the new Raiders west coast national scout. Yeargan follows new Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler and new head coach Josh McDaniels from New England after making the leap to the NFL back in 2013. McGill has spent 21 years scouting in the NFL for the Packers, Broncos, and Dolphins. He’ll add the Raiders to his list.
  • The Patriots are looking to restock their losses with the addition of Buccaneers area scout Tony Kinkela, according to Neil Stratton of Inside the League. Kinkela made the move to the NFL after working with Tulane and Washington State at the college level. He’s spent 13 years in Tampa Bay’s front office, earning a Super Bowl ring during his tenure. Kinkela will be headed towards a more senior role in New England.
  • New Giants general manager Joe Schoen is changing things up in an effort to make the front office his own, according to tweets from Jordan Raanan of ESPN and Dan Duggan of The Athletic, with credit to Stratton from above. Following the 2022 NFL Draft, the Giants have announced that four high level staff members will not be returning: director of college scouting Chris Pettit, senior personnel executive Kyle O’Brien, senior pro scouting executive Ken Sternfeld, and senior pro scout/football systems analyst Matt Schauger. Pettit, Sternfeld, and Schauger are all long-time New York employees. Pettit has been with the team since 2004, Sternfeld since 2002, and Schauger since 2005. O’Brien had joined the team for the 2021 season. One move, first reported by Stratton, that will address the departures is the addition of Bears area scout Scott Hamel, who is expected to play a role similar to what O’Brien had held, according to Art Stapleton of USA Today.
  • New Bears general manager Ryan Poles is making adjustments to his staff, as well. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, director of college scouting Mark Sadowski will not return. Sadowski has been with the Bears since 2005. Not everyone from the existing staff will be headed out, though, as former-director of pro scouting Jeff King has been promoted to co-director of player personnel, a role he’ll share with Trey Koziol. King started with the Bears as a scouting intern in 2015, rising quickly through the ranks in the past seven years. He was instrumental in many of the Bears’ 13 unrestricted free agents signings from other teams this offseason. Koziol broke into the NFL as an intern with the Titans in 2008. He spent the last nine years in Kansas City, starting as an area scout before working up to assistant director of college scouting this past season. It’s a smart move from Poles to have two co-directors of player personnel: one, King, specialized in pro scouting and one, Koziol, specialized in college scouting.

Latest On James Bradberry

The draft has come and gone, meaning that much of the attention regarding the Giants is being turned back on to cornerback James Bradberry. Keeping in line with what has been expected throughout the offseason, it appears he will be on his way out of New York soon. 

ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reports that “all signs point” to Bradberry being released “soon” (Twitter link). That had long been the expected outcome of this situation, though in the run-up to free agency it was reported he was drawing trade interest. As Raanan details, general manager Joe Schoen recently described the trade market for the 28-year-old as being “tougher than expected”.

The relative lack of offers is directly tied, of course, to the primary reason the team is set to move on from him in the first place. Bradberry is scheduled to have a cap hit of just over $21.8MM in 2022, the final non-void year on his contract. Schoen acknowledged the possibility of extending him to lower that figure, but called it a “last resort”. Moving on from the Pro Bowler would be the latest in a string of cost-cutting moves the Giants have made, as Schoen continues to try and carve out much-needed cap room.

The Chiefs were named as one of the teams most interested in acquiring Bradberry before or during the draft, but they elected to use three selections on corner prospects. As was noted at the time, it was always far more likely teams would look to add him as a free agent after his release, rather than trading for his contract. On that point, Raanan notes how hitting the open market so late in free agency will likely hurt the value of his next deal. Still, his age and level of play should generate notable interest from a number of teams looking to add to their secondary.

Restructured Deals: Packers, Broncos, Bills, Patriots, Giants

As free agency continues, teams will keep finding ways to open up additional cap. We’ve had a handful of reworked contracts in recent days, which we’ve compiled below:

  • The Packers opened $10.15MM in cap space by restructuring the contracts of wideout Randall Cobb (which was previously reported) and safety Adrian Amos, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). ESPN’s Rob Demovsky tweets that Green Bay turned $5.88MM of Amos’ $7MM base salary into a signing bonus and added four void years.
  • The Broncos opened up some space via a pair of restructured deals. Wideout Tim Patrick converted $6.9MM of his roster bonus into a signing bonus, creating around $4.6MM in cap space, per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter). The Broncos also converted receiver Courtland Sutton‘s $10.5MM roster bonus into a signing bonus, saving $7.875MM in 2022 cap space, per Klis (on Twitter).
  • The Panthers converted $11.765MM of wideout Robby Anderson’s 2022 pay into a signing bonus, creating $5.88MM in cap space, per Yates (on Twitter). Staying in the NFC, Yates also tweets that the Eagles converted $14.88MM of cornerback Darius Slay’s salary into a signing bonus, creating $11.90MM in 2022 cap space.
  • The Giants converted $2.63MM of kicker Graham Gano’s salary into a bonus, creating $1.753MM in cap space, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter). The team also added a void year to the contract, something GM Joe Schoen was trying to avoid (per Raanan).
  • After getting traded to the Bills, quarterback Case Keenum agreed to rework his contract. Per Yates (on Twitter), Keenum reduced his base salary to $3.5MM. Another AFC East team, the Patriots, also got into the game, reducing defensive end Henry Anderson‘s base salary from $2.5MM to $1.25MM (per Yates).
  • Yates passes along three more restructures (on Twitter): the Vikings opened $6MM in cap space by reworking safety Harrison Smith‘s contract, the Bills opened $5.172MM via linebacker Matt Milano‘s contract, and the Titans opened $6.45MM via linebacker Zach Cunningham‘s contract.

Giants Intend To Keep Patrick Graham; Will Retain Two Key Execs

As Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll begin their respective tenures as the general manager and head coach of the Giants, they have made clear a desire for stability at a number of positions in the organization. As Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (via Twitter), the team plans on retaining defensive coordinator Patrick Graham if he doesn’t get a HC gig elsewhere. As well, his colleague Mike Garafolo tweets that assistant GM Kevin Abrams and director of football operations Ed Triggs will be staying with the team. 

Graham, as Rapoport notes, recently interviewed with the Vikings for their HC vacancy. That came after he met with the Giants for the same position; while he obviously didn’t get the top job in New York, the team has let it be known they respect his work as DC.

In his inaugural press conference on Monday, Daboll – who worked alongside Graham for three seasons in New England – said, “I have had a good relationship with Pat for some time in this league. He’s very diligent. He’s smart. I think the players respect him. I have a good working relationship with him. Selfishly, I would love him to be here“. As the Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets, defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson is expected to be retained as well.

As for Abrams, it appears he will be staying in New York, but quite possibly with a new title. As Duggan tweets, he has “offered to give up” the assistant GM label if it helps Shoen bring in a more familiar right-hand-man. Having been with the Giants since 1999, Abrams was a candidate for the GM opening, but the team stuck to its stated intention of hiring externally.

Triggs, meanwhile, has held his current role since June 2020 and like Abrams, has a plethora of front office experience with the Giants. Clearly, Shoen and ownership want to keep key elements of the existing executive structure in place, as opposed to clearing house as other teams have done in the past.

 

Giants’ HC Search Beginning With Brian Daboll, Leslie Frazier

Newly-hired Giants general manager Joe Schoen is wasting no time in beginning the team’s search for a new head coach. He has already completed an interview with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and is expected to hold another one tomorrow with Buffalo’s defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier. 

According to a team announcement, the Daboll interview has already been completed, just hours after the hiring of Schoen was officially announced. The 46-year-old met via teleconference with Schoen and co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch. It should come as a surprise to no one that Daboll, the Bills’ OC for the past four seasons, is the candidate with whom the search process is beginning. It was immediately reported that he would be one of the key targets for the Giants once Schoen landed the GM job.

Meanwhile, Frazier’s name is being linked to the HC vacancy for the first time. As Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports (via Twitter), Frazier is expected to interview with the Giants on Saturday. Again, this is far from a surprise, given the Buffalo connection to Schoen. The 62-year-old has served in his current role for five years, overseeing the Bills’ defensive turnaround. He has already been interviewed by the Dolphins, and is also scheduled to meet with the Bears.

The other factor influencing the immediacy of these interviews, of course, is the fact that the Bills play on Sunday night. As Schwartz points out, any potential second interviews conducted prior to the Super Bowl could only take place if the first round was completed this weekend, something made easier by the fact that Schoen is still in Buffalo. The other two candidates linked to the Giants so far are ex-Dolphins HC Brian Flores and Cowboys DC Dan Quinn.

Giants Hire Joe Schoen As GM

The Giants have hired former Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen as their new GM, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Now, per a press release from the team, Schoen has been officially tapped as Dave Gettleman‘s replacement.

[RELATED: 2022 NFL General Manager Search Tracker]

We are pleased and proud to name Joe as our general manager,” said Giants president John Mara. “Throughout our search, Joe impressed us with his ability to communicate a progressive and comprehensive vision for our team. His philosophy and collaborative approach to building a roster and coaching staff align with what we were looking for in a general manager.”

The Giants spoke with at least nine candidates during their search, before narrowing the field to three finalists: Schoen, 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters, and Chiefs executive Ryan Poles. This morning, the Giants informed Peters and Poles that they will be hiring someone else (Twitter link via Schefter) — that someone was Schoen.

Steve [Tisch] and I were both impressed with all nine candidates,” Mara said, via the team’s press release. “We came away from this process feeling like all nine will be a general manager in this league at some point. We just felt like Joe was the right fit at the right time for us.”

Schoen, 42, has spent the past five seasons as an assistant under current GM Brandon Beane, who has a relationship with Schoen dating back to 2001 when he was the GM of the Panthers. The turnaround in Buffalo over the past few years, and Schoen’s role in that process, earned him plenty of GM interest. In addition to the G-Men, the Bears were also high on him, but they’ll have to look elsewhere.

[Schoen is] going to be a GM,” Beane told The Athletic back in 2019. “The thing about him is that he’s smart enough to know that he’s still learning and growing, and he’s trying to get stronger at his craft. He wants to be totally ready when he gets in there.”

Instead of just rushing to the seat and then trying to figure it out, Joe’s that guy that he wants to have all the answers to the test before he goes and sits down. Very few people are like that. There’s so many people in this business that are just trying to get into that head coach seat, that GM seat, and maybe they’re not ready for it. I have no doubt he’s going to be ready for it. He’s a great communicator. He understands people. You’re not going to outwork him.”

With Schoen at the helm, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll may have a leg up in the Giants’ head coaching search. It’s also worth noting that Giants ownership was high on Daboll, even before Schoen got the job today. Cowboys DC Dan Quinn and ex-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores are also expected to garner serious consideration.

Giants Conduct Second Interviews With Joe Schoen, Ryan Poles

The second round of interviews conducted by the Giants to fill their general manager vacancy have begun. With it, two candidates have completed – or been scheduled to undertake – in-person meetings with the team’s ownership: Joe Schoen, assistant GM of the Bills, and Ryan Poles, the executive director of player personnel for the Chiefs.

According to the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz, Schoen had his interview on Tuesday. That news is significant, as he was also the first candidate to interview virtually in the opening round of the GM search. While that may be a coincidence and Schoen might not be the clear-cut favorite, Schwartz writes “there is no denying he is a bonafide NFL front office executive and those in the know around the league anticipate he will have the opportunity to run a team of his own sooner, rather than later”.

The 42-year old Schoen has spent the past five seasons as an assistant under current GM Brandon Beane, who has a relationship with Schoen dating back to 2001 when he was the general manager of the Panthers. The turnaround in Buffalo over the past few years, and Schoen’s role in that process, has earned him plenty of GM interest; he also interviewed with the Bears on Sunday. Not surprisingly, Schwartz writes that “if Schoen gets the job, it is expected he will endorse [Bills OC] Brian Daboll” to become the new head coach.

The request for a second interview with Poles, meanwhile, was first reported (via Twitter) by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. He notes that Poles is no stranger to being in strong consideration for a GM job, as he was also a finalist for the position in Carolina last year. The fact that Poles, at 36, is the youngest candidate to fill the Giants’ vacancy makes it noteworthy that he is obviously on the shortlist of options. On the other hand, he has also received interview requests from the Bears and Vikings, proving how popular he is among GM-needy franchises.

Poles’ interview will be conducted on Wednesday, days before the Bills and Chiefs meet in the playoffs. Schwartz notes the large amount of success those two franchises have had in recent years, and the desire for the Giants to “hire someone from outside their organization to show them the way back in [to the postseason]”. He adds that the team is planning on having their GM “in place by the end of the week”.

Stay tuned to see any official announcements naming either of these two as the GM, or any more second interviews conducted with the other eight candidates.