Rick Spielman

Commanders’ Next HC To Report To Adam Peters

Ron Rivera wielded more power than his Commanders successor will possess within the organization. The since-fired head coach spent much of his time in Washington running the show; the team’s next HC will not.

The Commanders are planning to give their newly hired president of football operations, Adam Peters, the keys. Their to-be-determined head coach will report to Peters, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer. This will be a shift for the franchise, who gave Rivera personnel power during the final Dan Snyder years.

[RELATED: Ben Johnson Frontrunner For Commanders’ HC Job?]

While Peters follows Martin Mayhew as a Washington GM being hired from San Francisco, John Lynch‘s longtime lieutenant will be a more empowered figure with the NFC East franchise. After Washington spent 2020 without a GM, Rivera signed off on the Mayhew addition in 2021. While Mayhew held considerable power, Rivera was ultimately in charge. The dismissed HC has since said this setup is not ideal, and new owner Josh Harris had long been expected to bring forth a shift. Following Mayhew and Ran Carthon, Peters is the third Lynch-era 49ers exec to land a GM gig.

Some teams have both their head coach and GM report to ownership separately, while others use the owner-GM-HC workflow model. After rumblings of Harris seeking an organizational restructure, the Commanders can now be slotted in the latter category. Regarding this Peters-fronted restructuring, the new front office boss will evaluate the team’s personnel setup. This evaluation, however, will not include Commanders president Jason Wright, per Front Office Sports’ AJ Perez. Wright’s work will fall outside of Peters’ purview. Snyder hired Wright to head up the team’s business side in 2020.

Peters will have authority to determine the roles of Mayhew and VP of player personnel Marty Hurney. Both of these execs have been rumored to be on the outs, but no firings are known to have transpired yet. Peters and Mayhew worked together for nearly four years in San Francisco. The Peters hire, rather than the organization going with its other finalist (Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham), would seem to point to Mayhew staying in a different capacity.

Peters, who turned down the chance to interview for the Cardinals and Titans’ GM jobs last year, always loomed as a logical candidate. But he officially became a Commanders target in December, when former Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers — brought in by Harris as an advisor during this transition — asked ex-Vikings GM Rick Spielman if he would also help out, Breer adds. These two did prep work beginning around Week 16, with Harris wanting good background in the event he fired Rivera. Spielman came up with a 15-person list for the football ops job, and he and Myers whittled it down to the Peters-Cunningham contingent.

Spielman, whom the Vikings fired following the 2021 season, did not tell anyone who he was working for during this research effort, per Breer. The first round of interviews occurred at Harris’ Miami office. Co-owners Magic Johnson, Mitchell Rales and David Blitzer also spent extensive time with the candidates, with Breer adding the latter trio offered Harris input that led to the Peters decision. We will soon see how the Spielman- and Myers-led research effort turns out on the coaching front.

Commanders Fire Ron Rivera; Bob Myers, Rick Spielman Added As Advisors

Black Monday has seen the next head coach dismissed in the NFL. As expected, the Commanders have parted ways with Ron Rivera, marking an end to his four-year run with the team.

Owner Josh Harris has taken a unique approach to begin the process of finding Rivera’s replacement. Former Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers as well as former Vikings GM Rick Spielman have been hired as advisors to assist in the search, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

A house cleaning on the sidelines in particular has been expected for some time now, and Harris has indeed followed through with the expected move of dismissing Rivera. The latter posted a 4-13 record this season, the worst in his career. As a result of the team’s losing skid to close out the campaign, Rivera’s overall mark in the nation’s capital stands at 26-40-1. None of his four seasons at the helm resulted in a winning campaign, although that stretch did include a playoff appearance in 2020.

General manager Martin Mayhew – himself listed as a hot seat occupant – along with executive VP of football/player personnel Marty Hurney will remain in place for at least the time being, per the team. They will assist in the search process for Rivera’s successor as well as a new head of football operations. The latter position points to an organizational restructuring compared to how the franchise operated under former owner Dan Snyder. The fate of Mayhew and Hurney will be decided after the new hires are in place, per the ESPN report.

Rivera took the Washington posting after eight-plus years with the Panthers. His time in Carolina included a Super Bowl appearance and aided his reputation as a top defensive mind. However, struggles on both sides of the ball limited the Commanders’ ability to contend during his time at the helm, and the team’s actions around the 2023 deadline pointed to major changes being forthcoming. Edge rushers (and pending free agents) Montez Sweat and Chase Young were dealt at the deadline, even though Rivera and then-defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio preferred to retain the former.

After a lopsided loss on Thanksgiving, Rivera fired Del Rio. That move came as little surprise given the lack of success on defense the team had with that pair on the sidelines despite the presence of four former first-rounders along the defensive line. Issues on that side of the ball, along with inconsistent play from first-year starting quarterback Sam Howell, led to an eight-game losing streak to close out the season. Major changes throughout the organization are due to take place as a result.

As CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reports, Harris is believed to be seeking a culture-builder allowing the Commanders to emulate teams such as the Patriots, Chiefs and Ravens. An emphasis on analytics has been mentioned as a factor to watch amidst the remolding of the franchise, including the appointment of a president of football ops. To no surprise, Harris’ effort on that front will include assistance from the NBA world; in addition to the Commanders, Harris owns the Philadelphia 76ers as well as the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Myers served as general manager of the Warriors beginning in 2012 and he held the post through this past season. In his tenure, Golden State built one of the NBA’s modern dynasties, winning four championships. Myers was named Executive of the Year twice, and he currently works as an analyst with ESPN.

Spielman had a nine-year run with the Vikings which ended in 2021. He was linked to a high-ranking post with the Jaguars in the 2022 offseason, but this temporary appointment will be his first in the NFL since the end of his Minnesota tenure. Spielman has more than 30 years of experience in the league, something which will be leaned on in the coming weeks. Minority owners Magic JohnsonMitch Rales and David Blitzer will also participate in the search process.

The Commanders currently lead the NFL in projected cap space, and the results of Week 18’s matchups has left the team with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. With plenty of roster flexibility, the Washington opening could be an attractive one to interested candidates. Regardless of which changes are made to the front office and on the sidelines, a quarterback capable of at least competing with Howell for the starting role is also expected to be added.

“Today, we made the decision to part ways with Ron Rivera,” a statement from Harris reads in part. “I want to thank Ron and his wife Stephanie for all they did for the Commanders and DMV community, especially during the ownership transition. Ron helped navigate this organization through some challenging times. He is a good man and thoughtful leader who has positively contributed to this organization and the NFL. I wish the Rivera family nothing but the best moving forward.”

NFC North Notes: Vikings Front Office Hire, Hundley, Jones, Alexander

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a noteworthy addition to his staff earlier this week. The team announced the hiring of Demitrius Washington as their new vice president of football operations.

Washington had spent seven years with the 49ers, a stretch which overlapped with Adofo-Mensah’s time in that organization. For the past two seasons, Washington served as San Francisco’s director of research and development, the same title Adofo-Mensah held with the Browns prior to his hire. The pair will now reunite and, along with new head coach Kevin O’Connell, oversee the franchise’s transition from the previous Rick Spielman-Mike Zimmer regime.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North, starting with one more from Minnesota:

  • The Vikings brought in veteran backup quarterback Brett Hundley as a tryout during rookie minicamp, but they made it clear they would not be signing him, as noted by Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The 28-year-old hasn’t made a regular season appearance since 2019, most recently spending time with the Colts. Minnesota’s QB room currently consists of Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley.
  • The Bears used one of their 11 picks in last month’s draft to add to its receiving corps, selecting Velus Jones in the third round. The team is high on his speed and versatility, leading to the new coaching staff having “big plans” for the 25-year-old. “Let’s start out at receiver and then let’s see what he can do, moving him around to different spots and getting him the ball, because he is an explosive athlete” head coach Matt Eberflus said, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. After transferring from USC to Tennessee, Jones produced both on offense and special teams, recording 807 receiving yards and leading the SEC in both punt and kick return yardage in 2021.
  • An interesting note came out in the aftermath of Jaire Alexander‘s record-breaking extension with the Packers. USA Today’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter) that the Pro Bowler specifically wanted a four-year (rather than five-year) deal. He got just that, helping him to break the record briefly held by Denzel Ward for the highest annual average amongst cornerbacks at $21MM per season, and keeping him under contract through 2026.

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’ 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.

Latest On Jaguars’ Front Office

The Jaguars are in the process of rebuilding not only their coaching staff, but also their front office personnel and structure. As ESPN’s Michael DiRocco writes, the team is looking to add multiple new executives, including an executive vice president of football operations. 

As he states, owner Shad Khan is looking to hire not only an EVP, but also “someone to work under” general manager Trent Baalke. It wouldn’t be the first time the Jaguars had a structure like that, as a similar one was in place when the Jaguars were last in playoff contention.

When speaking about the changes, Khan said, “One of the reasons we had the [coaching] search was not only looking for the head-coaching candidate but really to learn about other organizations… So some of the practices, some of the structure that works, we got great insight into it. Strengthening the football operations, more staff, that’s part of our goal. We’ve had too flat an organization and we want to add brainpower and more people to strengthen that”.

Tom Coughlin held the EVP title beginning in 2017 during the Doug Marrone coaching era in Jacksonville. That season ended with a trip to the AFC Championship game, but the organization was streamlined after Coughlin was fired in 2019. Khan elected to try a more coach-centric structure when he hired Urban Meyer, a decision that proved to be borderline disastrous. A return to the previous system so quickly after Meyer’s firing would represent a very fast about-face from Khan and the organization.

Many believe that Rick Spielman will eventually be named as the new EVP. The former Vikings GM recently interviewed for a position that would outrank Baalke, though nothing has been made official yet. In addition, the team would have to meet with at least two external minority candidates for the position in order to satisfy the Rooney Rule.

Especially after the hire of former Super Bowl winner Doug Pederson as head coach, the Jaguars are “taking a collaborative approach”, DiRocco writes. With an emphasis on long-term building, as opposed to a less patient, win-now approach with Meyer, more voices being involved in decision making could be a productive first step towards turning around a franchise which has finished at the bottom of the NFL for two straight years.

Latest On Jaguars, Rick Spielman

There are more signs pointing towards Rick Spielman being hired by the Jaguars. New details, more importantly, indicate that the position he is close to taking on would outrank that of general manager Trent Baalke (Twitter link via CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones). 

[Related: Jaguars Interview Rick Spielman For Non-GM Position]

Specifically, Jones states that “momentum is gaining” for Spielman to “ultimately get a football position that reports directly to owner Shad Khan and is above [Baalke]”. That is an important distinction, given the fact that it was reported earlier this week that Spielman’s role was likely to be that of an assistant GM, allowing Baalke to be more ‘hands-on’ rather than handling day-to-day operations.

Earlier in the day, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Spielman is headed for, essentially, a president role – something which many thought he would be transitioned to in Minnesota before he was fired. He adds that “there is progress being made” towards the hire becoming official. If it does, that would go a long way to easing concerns over the presence of Baalke, which has reportedly turned certain head coaching candidates away from the team.

On the point of the Jaguars’ HC vacancy, Garafolo also notes that Doug Pederson “would have been high on the Vikings’ list” if Spielman had remained in Minnesota. Between that, and the fact that Pederson has interviewed twice with Jacksonville, the Spielman hire becoming official would certainly point to the former Super Bowl champion getting the inside track for the HC job.

Jaguars Interview Rick Spielman For Non-GM Position

Amidst the confusion and controversy surrounding the Jaguars’ head coaching search, there has been a development of the front office side of the organization. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the team conducted an in-person interview with former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman on Monday (Twitter link). 

[Related: Latest On Jaguars’ Head Coaching Search]

Rapoport details that Spielman interviewed for a “high-level front office position”. However, as his colleague Mike Garafolo tweets, the role he is potentially taking on is not that of GM. That would mean incumbent Trent Baalke, who has been the source of much dismay in the Jags’ fanbase and is thought to be an impediment to the teams’ search for a head coach, is likely to remain in place.

Further to that point, Mark Long of the Associated Press reports (via Twitter) that Baalke was thought to be looking for an executive “to take on an assistant GM role to handle day-to-day operations”. The reason for that, he continues, would be to allow Baalke “to be more hands-on with players on the field”. It would appear, then, that a hire like this would alter, but in a sense, expand, Baalke’s duties in Jacksonville.

Spielman was fired along with HC Mike Zimmer on ‘Black Monday’. That brought his 16-year tenure with the team – which included the last 10 seasons as GM – to an end. While the team is clearly set to move in a new direction, there was a good deal of success during the 59-year-old’s time there. If he were to come to Jacksonville, he would at a minimum represent an experienced voice in front office decisions, and potentially even quell the concerns of interested candidates wary of having to work under Baalke.

Latest Candidates, Priorities In Vikings’ Coach, GM Searches

The Vikings are one of eight teams in search of a new head coach, and one of three (soon to be four, counting the Steelers) in need of a new general manager. New details have emerged regarding the worsening culture in the organization, and the emphasis being placed on better communication in the process to replace Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman. As the search comes into better focus, the order in which hires will be made has been confirmed, and another name has been linked to the head coaching vacancy. 

According to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, one of the main reasons Zimmer and Spielman were let go was to allow for a “culture shift”. She notes that there seemed to be a growing disconnect between players and the coaching staff, and that working towards mending that relationship will be key in trying to get the team back into the postseason. One damning comment came from veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks, who said “I don’t think a fear-based organization is the way to go”.

Cronin notes that an internal search committee has been formed to select the new general manager. Made up of members from a diverse range of backgrounds and skillsets – one of which is “the people and culture department, which includes diversity and inclusion” – they will choose the new GM, who in turn “will have input in the head coach [selection]” according to a tweet from the writer. Owner Mark Wilf has emphasized multiple times the need for strong leaders and communicators to lead the franchise going forward.

Part of the emphasis being placed so much on culture and communication stems from the apparent growth in tensions within the team as Zimmer’s tenure wound down. It had become “clear that for some, there was a need for a new voice”, something that many in the organization feel will be a positive step for the team. It has become known that “some coaches felt internally that the offensive staff was at times pitted against the defensive staff”, something which may have contributed to the high amount of turnover of offensive coordinators in Minnesota during Zimmer’s tenure.

Meanwhile, Cronin’s ESPN colleague Jeremy Fowler tweets that the Vikings have done research on Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glen, and that he is therefore a name to keep an eye on if the team’s list of candidates grows in the coming days. Regardless of who the new HC and GM will be, it is clear they will be charged with making more than just schematic or personnel changes if they are to bring the franchise back to being a Super Bowl contender.


Vikings Request Interview With Bucs’ John Spytek

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, in their search to make their first general manager outside hire in over a decade, the Vikings have requested an interview with Buccaneers’ executive John Spytek (Twitter). Spytek is the current vice president of player personnel in Tampa Bay.

A Midwest-native, Spytek got his start as an operations intern for the Lions in 2004. He became a player personnel intern for the Eagles in 2005, taking only a year to earn a full-time college scouting assistant position. From Philadelphia, he moved to Cleveland to become their director of college scouting. After three seasons in the Browns’ organization, he spent about three more years in Denver before taking a position in the Buccaneers’ front office. He’s currently in his sixth season with Tampa Bay and his 18th in the NFL.

The connection to Minnesota is interesting due to Spytek’s connection to the Kubiak family from his time in Denver. Be sure to track the Vikings’ interest in Spytek and other candidates to replace Rick Spielman here.