JoJo Wooden

Raiders Add JoJo Wooden To Front Office

FEBRUARY 26: The Wooden hire is now official, per a team announcement. The veteran executive will hold the title of senior director of player personnel, meaning he will be able to carry on in the same capacity as his time paired with Telesco with the Chargers.

FEBRUARY 8: Tom Telesco will bring one of his former lieutenants to the desert. The staffer who replaced Telesco as Chargers GM to close out the season, JoJo Wooden, is expected to join the Raiders.

Wooden, who worked alongside Telesco for 11 years in San Diego and Los Angeles, is set to become a key part of the next Raiders front office structure,’s Ian Rapoport reports. Prior to finishing out the season in the interim Bolts GM role, Wooden was in place as the team’s director of player personnel.

Although the Chargers interviewed Wooden for their GM job, no other teams brought him in for a meeting this offseason. The Raiders did not interview Wooden in 2022, though both the Bears and Steelers brought him in to discuss their GM jobs that year. Wooden, 54, has been a front office staffer in the NFL since 1997.

Telesco did not work with Wooden during his long-running Colts stay; the latter spent more than a decade with the Jets prior to trekking to San Diego in 2013. The former Syracuse defender started his personnel career during Bill Parcells‘ stay with the Jets in the late ’90s and stayed in New York through the 2012 season. Wooden rose to the role of assistant director of player personnel with the Jets, rising up the ranks on the scouting side.

Telesco hired Wooden as his player personnel director upon taking over as GM in 2013; the latter will bring extensive experience as a high-ranking FO staffer. The Raiders will rely on a Chargers blueprint they viewed in a positive light, despite their AFC West rivals’ frequent underachievement on the field.

With Jim Harbaugh reshaping the Chargers’ front office, hiring longtime Ravens execs Joe Hortiz and Chad Alexander to lead the way in L.A., Wooden did not appear to have a realistic chance of sticking around. The ex-Chargers bastions will go about competing with Harbaugh, along with Andy Reid and Sean Payton, in Las Vegas. While Harbaugh, Reid and Payton are the top figures with the other AFC West teams, the Raiders are the only one to have installed a GM atop their decision-making hierarchy. Telesco will control the Raiders’ roster.

Chargers Interview JoJo Wooden For GM Job

As expected, JoJo Wooden got an opportunity to interview for the Chargers GM gig. The team announced that they’ve interviewed their interim GM for the full-time job.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL General Manager Search Tracker]

After Tom Telesco was fired in December, Wooden took over as general manager for the rest of the season. The executive spent the previous decade as the Chargers Director of Player Personnel, with Wooden overseeing the college and pro scouting departments. Prior to his stint with the Chargers, Wooden spent 16 years with the Jets, working his way up from a personnel assistant to assistant director of player personnel.

While Wooden has yet to add the full-time general manager title to his resume, this isn’t the first time he’s generated interest for the role. Wooden previously interviewed for GM openings with the Steelers, Commanders, and Bears.

Wooden is the eighth candidate for the open Chargers GM gig, with the executive joining the following executives:

Chargers Fire Brandon Staley, Tom Telesco

Following the Raiders’ historic rout of the Chargers on Thursday night, the reeling team will drop the hammer early. The Bolts announced the firings of Brandon Staley and Tom Telesco on Friday morning.

The Chargers have since announced the promotion of Giff Smith and JoJo Wooden to respectively replace Staley and Telesco on an interim basis. The former has experience as a D-line coach dating back to 1999, and he has been in the organization since 2016. Over the past two seasons, though, he has worked as the team’s outside linebackers coach. This will be Smith’s first appointment as a head coach at the college or pro level.

Wooden, meanwhile, has been with the Chargers for the past decade. He has served with the title of player personnel director after working his way through the ranks in the Jets’ scouting department from 1997 to 2012. Like Smith, he will now oversee the conclusion of a highly disappointing campaign for the Bolts before potentially garnering consideration for the full-time role.

This is the first instance of the Chargers firing a head coach in-season since they axed Kevin Gilbride 25 years ago. But Staley has long been expected to be out, with the Bolts regressing in a season following a 27-point collapse in the wild-card round. Telesco spent 11 years as the Chargers’ GM. While much-hyped rosters formed under his watch, the team did not turn well-regarded transactions into sustained success.

Hired in 2021, Staley came over after one season as the Rams’ defensive coordinator. But the ascendant assistant could not establish success in this area with the Chargers. The Raiders dropping 63 on their rivals, 42 of those points coming in the first half, after the Vikings had held them scoreless in Week 15 prompted Bolts ownership to act early.

Telesco backed Staley following the Jaguars’ wild-card rally, which doubled as the third-biggest postseason deficit ever overcome, and the “what if?” involving Sean Payton is worth examining. The then-FOX analyst was linked to being interested in the Chargers job at multiple points last year. The move would have allowed Payton to stay in Los Angeles. But Telesco kept Staley, continuing a Chargers trend of keeping coaches beyond two seasons.

Staley is now the first Bolts HC to lose his job after less than four full seasons since the team fired Mike Riley following the 2001 campaign. Even Riley, who did not produce a winning season, lasted longer than Staley. But the alarming Week 15 performance opened the door to the Bolts needing to cut the cord now. As the team began to struggle this season, Chargers president John Spanos — a previous Staley advocate — began to distance himself from the embattled HC,’s Armando Salguero notes. The Spanoses will now begin to look for Staley’s replacement in an offseason that will remind of 2013, when the Bolts replaced both their HC and GM.

The Telesco news represents a bigger-picture development. The former Colts exec had hired Mike McCoy, Anthony Lynn and Staley during his run as GM. Telesco’s drafts brought difference-makers in Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Derwin James, Rashawn Slater and Justin Herbert. Telesco did well to leave no gaps between star quarterbacks, selecting Herbert sixth overall a month after Philip Rivers departed in free agency. Telesco, 51, also hammered out a through-2029 Herbert extension this offseason. The quarterback’s presence will make both the new Bolts vacancies attractive, but rampant underachievement has defined this team for much of the 21st century.

Even before the Raiders’ rout, Telesco was rumored to be on the chopping block. Dean Spanos will opt to not let Telesco hire a fourth HC. The three he hired combined for just three playoff appearances in 11 seasons. The Chargers, who had sustained success under Marty Schottenheimer and the early part of Norv Turner‘s ensuing HC run, have not ventured to back-to-back playoff brackets since the 2008-09 seasons. Despite Rivers playing his final seven Chargers seasons during Telesco’s tenure, the potential Hall of Famer only piloted the Bolts to two playoff brackets in that span. The Chargers won postseason games in 2013 and ’18 and were on track to eliminate the Jags last season, but success proved fleeting for squads that seemed to annually generate buzz.

After hiring offense-oriented coaches in 2013 and ’17, Telesco chose Staley’s defensive acumen to pair with Herbert in 2021. The Chargers managed to produce the AFC’s Pro Bowl starting quarterback and miss the playoffs. That had not happened in the AFC since the 1989 Bengals. Herbert put up dazzling numbers in 2021, but a Week 18 loss to the Raiders led to the budding superstar’s season wrapping early. A rib injury last September limited Herbert, and Staley fired OC Joe Lombardi following the playoff season. Two-year DC Renaldo Hill left to rejoin Vic Fangio in Miami this offseason.

Following a 2021 season that featured the Bolts ranking 29th in points allowed, Staley made a push for the team to equip him with better defensive personnel in 2022. The team traded for Khalil Mack and signed J.C. Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day. The Mack trade belatedly panned out, with the former Raiders and Bears standout rebounding for 15 sacks this season. The five-year, $82.5MM Jackson contract proved disastrous for the Chargers, who sent the underperforming cornerback back to the Patriots for next to nothing earlier this season.

The Chargers had made Jackson a healthy scratch in Week 3. Even after the round of defensive reinforcements, Staley’s 2022 defense ranked 20th; after last night’s Raider rampage, his third Charger defense ranks 29th. Last season’s Jacksonville catastrophe also featured the Bolts lining up without Mike Williams, who was injured in a meaningless Week 18 game against the Broncos. Staley and Telesco each defended the decision to leave starters in that contest deep into the second half, but the Chargers — who have struggled with receiver health over the past two seasons — suffered the consequences of Williams’ absence a week later. As the Chargers swooned in the wake of the playoff debacle, they lost Herbert to a season-ending finger injury.

Herbert’s status will naturally drive interest in this position, and some around the league are monitoring the Chargers as a Bill Belichick suitor. The Bolts would likely need to trade for the Patriots legend, and it would be interesting to see if this gains traction. A short-term Belichick-Herbert pairing would draw interest for a franchise that has struggled to establish itself in L.A., while such a move would also be a zag after Telesco made inexperienced coordinators — in Staley and Lynn — his HC choices. But we are still a ways away from the Belichick market taking shape.

Regardless of where the Chargers go from here, their next regime will be responsible for undoing some of the damage this era brought. The organization’s reputation for letdowns pushed “Chargering” into the NFL lexicon. In a division with Payton and Patrick Mahomes, the Bolts suddenly have more ground to make up despite striking gold with Herbert.

Adam La Rose contributed to this post.

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

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:

Steelers Interview Three GM Candidates

Although Kevin Colbert‘s lengthy Steelers GM tenure will not conclude until after the draft, the team is beginning to meet with potential replacements. Three external candidates interviewed for the job this week.

Titans VP of player personnel Ryan Cowden joined Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds and Chargers director of player personnel JoJo Wooden in meeting with Steelers president Art Rooney II in Mobile, Ala., during Senior Bowl week, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes.

All three came up in at least one other team’s GM search this year. Dodds met with two other teams — the Bears and Raiders — ahead of his Steelers interview, which also likely included Colbert and Mike Tomlin, who are also in Mobile. Cowden met with the Giants last month, while the Bears targeted Wooden before hiring Ryan Poles. Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan is also a candidate to succeed Colbert.

While Pittsburgh is in need of a starting quarterback for the first time in nearly 20 years, Colbert’s impending departure vacates the team’s GM chair for the first time in more than 20. Colbert, however, is open to staying with the Steelers in a reduced capacity, Dulac adds (on Twitter). Colbert has been with the Steelers since 2000.

With the Colts since 2017, Dodds withdrew from both the Bears’ 2022 GM search and the Panthers’ search process last year. The former Seahawks exec also pulled out of the Browns’ GM search in 2020. Cowden is in his sixth year with the Titans, coming to Tennessee after 16 years with the Panthers. Wooden has been with the Chargers since Tom Telesco‘s GM tenure began in 2013.

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.

Washington Eyeing Chargers’ JoJo Wooden, Falcons’ Nick Polk For GM Job

Two more candidates for Washington’s GM job surfaced Thursday. The team is expected to interview Chargers executive JoJo Wooden, according to’s Ian Rapoport, who adds Washington also submitted an interview request to Falcons exec Nick Polk (Twitter links).

After the Washington GM job sat vacant for a year, the team is moving ahead with several candidates for the position. These two join ex-GMs Marty Hurney, Martin Mayhew and Rick Smith, along with Titans staffer Ryan Cowden, in Washington’s search so far. Wooden and Polk are much less seasoned on the GM circuit, but each has been a high-ranking NFL exec for well over a decade.

Wooden serves as the Chargers’ director of player personnel and has been with the franchise since Tom Telesco‘s 2013 arrival. A Syracuse linebacker in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wooden spent 16 seasons with the Jets, beginning under Bill Parcells in the late ’90s. Wooden worked as Gang Green’s assistant player personnel director for six seasons prior to a relocation to San Diego.

Polk has been the Falcons’ director of football operations for 11 years, but with the Falcons transitioning to perhaps Terry Fontenot at GM, Thomas Dimitroff-era execs’ roles certainly stand to be in flux. However, Polk has been with the Falcons for multiple GM regimes, beginning with the team prior to Dimitroff’s arrival.