Samir Suleiman

Latest On Patriots’ Eliot Wolf Decision

The Patriots now officially have their top post-Bill Belichick pieces in place, naming Eliot Wolf their executive VP of player personnel nearly four months after hiring Jerod Mayo to replace the coaching legend on the sideline.

Filling these two jobs involved a historically low-volume search. After language in Mayo’s contract allowed the Patriots to work around the Rooney Rule — which mandates two external minority candidates be interviewed for HC positions — the team met with only two outside candidates for its de facto GM position. And the process leading to the Wolf hire proved to be a box-checking operation, as a few candidates around the league effectively predicted.

During search that saw three executives — the Bengals’ Trey Brown, the Bills’ Terrance Gray and former Cardinals staffer Quentin Harris — decline interviews, the Patriots met with Eagles scouting director Brandon Hunt and former Panthers exec Samir Suleiman. Neither interview took place at the team facility, according to’s Albert Breer, and the two candidates who agreed to interview did not meet with anyone beyond the Krafts.

Widely expected to end with Wolf being given the keys on a full-time basis, this Patriots search brought the combined total of outside candidates interviewed for the HC and GM jobs to two this offseason. By comparison, the Panthers met with 11 outside candidates for their HC post and eight non-Carolina-based staffers for their GM gig. The Chargers spoke with nine GM candidates and met with 13 outside coaches. The Commanders’ HC-GM search covered five GM aspirants and seven outside HC interviewees. The Raiders’ search most closely resembled the Patriots’, as they only met with two non-Antonio Pierce candidates for HC and five GM candidates.

The Pats, who have not given out a GM title in more than 30 years, gave Wolf a trial run by installing him as their acting personnel chief months before the draft, Breer adds. It would have been borderline shocking to see the team allow Wolf to select its hopeful long-term quarterback (No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye), turning down Giants and Vikings trade-up offers along the way, and then go with another candidate to lead the way post-draft. Most around the league correctly predicted New England would stick with Wolf, a longtime exec who had worked as the No. 2 man in Green Bay and Cleveland. Wolf later became a finalist for the Bears and Vikings’ GM jobs in 2022.

Wolf, 42, has changed the Patriots’ scouting system by replacing Belichick’s setup with what he used with the Packers; the Patriots will also switch up their workflow by having both Wolf and Mayo report to ownership. While this format can cause division, other teams have both their HC and GM meet directly with ownership rather than use a top-down approach.

Prior to Belichick’s exit, Matt Groh worked as his top lieutenant. The Patriots have employed Wolf since 2020, but the Krafts saw enough in the second-generation personnel man to vault him past Groh and into their top front office spot. Groh remains with the organization, but it will be Wolf — likely with more input from ownership compared to the Belichick era — leading the way.

Ownership did not conduct thorough searches to reach its Mayo-Wolf endpoint. That stands to be an important footnote as the team prepares for its first post-Belichick season.

Patriots Interview Samir Suleiman

A fifth confirmed candidate for the Patriots’ lead front office executive position has emerged. While three of the first four options declined an audience with the team, former Panthers staffer Samir Suleiman will meet about the job.

The Pats are interviewing Suleiman — most recently the Panthers’ VP of football administration — on Wednesday, according to’s Adam Schefter. Suleiman was part of this year’s January GM interview cycle, meeting about the Panthers’ position. While this is effectively for a GM role,’s Albert Breer indicates the Patriots are labeling the position their executive vice president of football operations. This is similar to how the Commanders themed their search this offseason.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL General Manager Search Tracker]

Carolina parted ways with Suleiman after promoting assistant GM Dan Morgan to the GM post. This interview represented Suleiman’s second meeting about a GM position. He also met about the Panthers’ 2021 GM vacancy, but while the team retained the salary cap expert after Scott Fitterer landed the gig three years ago, the sides parted ways once Morgan stepped in as Fitterer’s replacement.

Three execs — Trey Brown, Terrance Gray, Quentin Harristurned down the Patriots, who are still viewed as likely to give this position to Eliot Wolf, who has been in charge of the team’s roster for several weeks post-Bill Belichick. The two staffers who have not rejected interviews worked together in Pittsburgh. Brandon Hunt, who is currently an Eagles exec, worked alongside Suleiman from 2013-19 with the Steelers. As Hunt served as the team’s director of pro scouting, Suleiman was in place as the AFC North franchise’s football administration coordinator.

Suleiman debuted on NFL staffs in the late 1990s, beginning his run with the Jaguars. He then spent the 2000s with the Rams, operating as the director of football administration for the then-St. Louis-based franchise. The Panthers hired Suleiman in 2020, and he became the team’s primary contract negotiator.

Hunt is continuing his interview today, Schefter adds. Once Suleiman completes his interview, the Patriots would stand to have satisfied their Rooney Rule requirements. Like Hunt, Suleiman is a minority exec. Teams are required to interview at least two external minority candidates to comply with the updated Rooney Rule.

2024 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

With the Patriots hiring Eliot Wolf as their de facto GM after having moved on from Bill Belichick, all five teams in need of a GM have filled their post this offseason. If other teams decide to make GM changes, they’ll be added to this list.

Updated 5-11-24 (4:35pm CT)

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Washington Commanders

Panthers Notes: ST Coordinator, QBs Coach, Front Office

The Panthers have made some progress filling their coaching staff, but the team still has a vacancy at special teams coordinator. There’s now at least one known candidate for the job, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Panthers are interviewing Bills assistant special teams coach Cory Harkey for their coordinator job.

[RELATED: Panthers Likely To Hire Buccaneers’ Brad Idzik As OC]

Following his five-year playing career, Harkey caught on as a tight ends coach in the college ranks. He earned his first NFL coaching job with the Bills in 2022, and he spent the past two seasons as their assistant special teams coordinator. Harkey clearly made an impression in his role, as he’ll now have an opportunity for the top ST job in Carolina.

While Harkey will interview for the job, he may not be the favorite. Joe Person of The Athletic passes along that Panthers head coach Dave Canales is targeting Seattle’s Tracy Smith as his special teams coordinator. Smith has had two lengthy stints working alongside Canales in Seattle, most recently as an assistant special teams coach. He also spent three years with the Texans organization, including a 2020 campaign where he served as the team’s ST coordinator. With Pete Carroll out in Seattle, Smith likely wouldn’t see any opposition if he decides to take his coaching acumen to the Panthers.

The Panthers are reportedly zeroing in on Buccaneers wide receivers coach Brad Idzik as their next offensive coordinator, and while that move hasn’t been made official, that hasn’t stopped the organization from looking to fill out the rest of the offensive coaching staff. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Panthers requested an interview with Cowboys quality control/offensive assistant Will Harriger for their quarterbacks coach job.

Harriger worked alongside Canales when the two were in Seattle, so there’s a clear connection. The coach recently worked with USC’s quarterbacks during the 2022 season, helping Caleb Williams win the Heisman Trophy. In Carolina, he’d be tasked with guiding former first-overall pick Bryce Young.

As Canales looks to fill his coaching staff, new general manager Dan Morgan is eyeing some reinforcement in the front office. Backing up what we heard last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter passes along that the Panthers are expected to pursue Chiefs vice president of football operations Brandt Tilis for a “prominent” front office role. Albert Breer of passes along that Tilis’ office in Kansas City has already been cleared out, and the executive hasn’t traveled with the team during the postseason.

Tilis was a candidate for the Panthers GM job, and the long-time Chiefs executive was a popular name in recent hiring cycles. In Carolina, Tilis would be expected to play an essential cap/analytics role within the front office.

One executive who won’t be back in Carolina next season is Samir Suleiman. The team has moved on from the director of player negotiations/salary cap manager, per ESPN’s David Newton.

Panthers Request HC Interview With Eagles OC Brian Johnson; Lions Exec Mike Disner Withdraws From GM Consideration

JANUARY 20: Disner has withdrawn from general manager consideration, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. As a result, he will remain in Detroit for at least a fifth straight season. Carolina was the only team to request an interview with him, but the Panthers have reached out to a number of other candidates in recent days as their search for a Fitterer replacement continues.

JANUARY 10: Although this Eagles season has skidded well off course, the team still reached 11 wins. Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator situation has seen some twists and turns, but its offensive play-caller is now part of the coaching carousel.

The Panthers sent Eagles OC Brian Johnson an interview request Wednesday,’s Adam Schefter tweets. This would be Johnson’s first NFL head coaching interview. The former college OC is finishing up his first season as an NFL play-caller. Johnson has been on Carolina’s radar for a bit. Steve Wilks had eyed Johnson as his OC, but the Panthers gave the HC job to Frank Reich.

Johnson, 36, has seen his profile raised since Shane Steichen accepted the Colts’ offer to become their head coach. The Eagles moved outside the organization to fill their DC post — something they may need to do again soon, considering what has transpired since Jonathan Gannon‘s Cardinals interview — but promoted Johnson after his two-year run as QBs coach.

The Eagles have dipped a bit offensively since last season, when Steichen’s attack featured dramatic Jalen Hurts improvement and third-place rankings in both scoring and yardage. Johnson’s offense ranks seventh and eighth, with Hurts suffering an early-season injury and playing through it. The Eagles have lost five of their past six games.

Carolina has been connected to a young, offense-oriented coach. Johnson checks both boxes and joins Brian Callahan (Bengals), Dave Canales (Buccaneers), Ben Johnson (Lions), Todd Monken (Ravens), Bobby Slowik (Texans) and Frank Smith (Dolphins) as OCs contacted by the Panthers, who are searching for both a head coach and a GM for the first time in the same cycle since John Fox and Marty Hurney were hired in 2002.

The Panthers have also completed a virtual interview with interim HC Chris Tabor. Tabor is not expected to be a serious candidate to become Carolina’s full-time HC. That said,’s David Newton indicates he is likely to receive consideration to stay on as special teams coordinator under the new coach.

On the GM note, the Panthers have two more candidates on their radar. In addition to Dan Morgan, another internal staffer — VP of football administration Samir Suleiman — is interviewing for the job. A salary cap specialist, Suleiman received a promotion in 2022. The Panthers have been linked to pairing Morgan with a football ops-side hire; Suleiman joins a list filled with this genre of GM candidate.

Adding another name to that list, Lions COO Mike Disner received an interview request as well. Disner’s background also is cap- and contract-related. Disner, who has been with the Lions for four years, has a connection in Carolina. He and the Panthers’ VP of player personnel, Adrian Wilson, worked in the Cardinals’ front office together under Steve Keim. Then again, it is far from certain the Panthers will carry over many Scott Fitterer-era front office staffers; the team hired Wilson last year. A relationship to perhaps monitor more closely: Ben Johnson has been with the Lions throughout Disner’s Detroit stay.

NFC South Notes: Pickett, Bucs, Falcons

The Panthers have received substandard quarterback play for several years and still have Sam Darnold‘s fully guaranteed fifth-year option ($18.9MM) on their books going forward. While Carolina will undoubtedly be linked to veteran passers — potentially Deshaun Watson for a second straight offseason — the team may have early interest in Pitt prospect Kenny Pickett. The Panthers are believed to be high on Pickett, per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who notes multiple evaluators do not believe the ACC talent will make it past Carolina’s No. 6 overall pick. Panthers owner David Tepper was previously a minority Steelers owner and, per JLC, is a Pitt booster, connecting some dots here. Tepper was believed to be behind the Panthers’ aggressive Watson interest last year, before the Texans QB’s legal issues surfaced. Based on that and the team’s push for Matthew Stafford last year, it can be assumed the owner will endorse a splashy QB addition. Although this year’s crop of prospects is not viewed especially well, Pickett impressed at the Senior Bowl and would give the Panthers a low-cost starter amid the Darnold deal.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Tristan Wirfs could not finish the Buccaneers‘ wild-card win and missed their divisional-round Rams matchup, halting a quality run of durability to start his career. Tampa Bay’s All-Pro right tackle is moving toward taking care of his recent ankle issue. Wirfs plans to undergo surgery, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (subscription required). Although Bruce Arians said a non-surgical option exists (via’s Scott Smith), the standout blocker suffered a rather severe ankle injury. The former first-round pick tore two ligaments, one ripping off the bone completely, Howe adds. Wirfs said he will undoubtedly be ready for training camp.
  • The Bucs have not made a roster move regarding Tom Brady yet, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, despite the all-time great announcing his retirement last week. The team has $32MM in dead money associated with its two-year quarterback. A post-June 1 placement on the reserve-retired list would defray $24MM of that total to 2023. The Saints and Panthers did this with Drew Brees and Luke Kuechly, respectively, over the past two offseasons. The Bucs doing this would also mean they would retain Brady’s rights for 2022, entitling them to compensation if the ageless passer decides he wants to play again but for another team. Should the Bucs release Brady after June 1, he would be free to sign with any team.
  • Falcons director of pro personnel Steve Sabo is leaving the team. Sabo spent the past 12 years with the Falcons, working in various roles. Previous GM Thomas Dimitroff hired Sabo, but he stayed on in Terry Fontenot‘s first year. Sabo previously served as the Falcons’ college scouting director.
  • The Panthers made a change in their front office recently as well. They are promoting cap guru Samir Suleiman to a newly created position of VP of football administration, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Suleiman previously worked as Carolina’s salary cap manager.

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

GM Notes: Colbert, Patriots, Panthers, Rhule, Bears, Pace

We brought you a new batch of coaching notes earlier, and now we’ve got a new collection of front office bullets to pass along as the Browns and Steelers wrap up wild card weekend:

  • Let’s start with the Steelers, who could be in danger of losing their GM this offseason. We heard last week that the Lions were going to pursue Kevin Colbert, and Jason La Canfora tweets their interest in making that happen is still “very real.” While La Canfora’s sources don’t think Colbert would actually make the jump, he says the Lions “continue to gather info and strategize on how to possibly lure him.” Colbert, in the midst of his 21st season in Pittsburgh, has also flirted with retirement recently. Perhaps a first-round exit at the hands of the Browns could convince him to jump ship?
  • The Patriots just lost one key exec when Nick Caserio got hired by the Texans, and fortunately for them it doesn’t look like they’ll lose another. Dave Ziegler has pulled himself out of contention for the Broncos’ GM job, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet writes that the “organization has committed to Ziegler’s future, and Ziegler has committed to” New England, so it sounds like the Pats gave him an extension and/or raise to stay.
  • There was another big withdrawal on Sunday, as Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds removed himself from the Panthers’ search, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. He had interviewed for the job last week. Dodds declined an interview request from the Browns back in January, so he appears to be waiting for the right opportunity to leave Indy.
  • Meanwhile as the Panthers’ search chugs along, they’ll take a look at a couple of internal candidates. Carolina will interview Director of Player Negotiations & Salary Cap Manager Samir Suleiman and Director of Player Personnel Pat Stewart for their GM vacancy (Twitter link via Joe Person of The Athletic). The Panthers are conducting an exhaustive search, so it’s possible these are just courtesy interviews.
  • One last note on the Panthers for now. No matter who they hire, it looks like it may be Matt Rhule who’s in charge at the end of the day. “Rhule will essentially be running the show in Carolina,” after they replace the fired Marty Hurney, a source told Mike Florio of That’s not all that surprising after owner David Tepper paid him a fortune to lure him from Baylor and Rhule earned strong marks for his first season with the Panthers, getting a bare-bones roster to fight hard and play a bunch of close games against good teams. Florio writes that whoever gets the gig “surely won’t get the job without Rhule’s agreement.” Rhule seems like a strong coach, but obviously these kind of arrangements can get dangerous, as we’ve seen with the Texans and Bill O’Brien.
  • Matt Nagy is going to be back with the Bears in 2021, but GM Ryan Pace’s future apparently isn’t entirely secure. Chicago could target Chiefs exec Mike Borgonzi this offseason, multiple sources told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. As Biggs points out, it would make sense for them to bring in someone familiar with Nagy if they’re going to change GMs but not coaches. Nagy, of course, coached in Kansas City under Andy Reid for a while. The Bears’ blowout loss to the Saints today certainly isn’t working in Pace’s favor, and the drafting of Mitchell Trubisky second overall never worked out. This will be an interesting situation to monitor this week.