Will McClay

Cowboys VP Of Player Personnel Will McClay Content With Current Role

Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay is widely regarded as a top GM candidate, but with owner Jerry Jones and son Stephen Jones at the top of the team’s unique hierarchy, McClay will never get a shot as a general manager in Dallas. However, his actions over the past few years have made it clear that he is happy right where he is, and he confirmed as much in a recent interview with Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

McClay, 55, joined the Cowboys as a scout in 2002. He took over the team’s scouting department as Assistant Director of Player Personnel in 2013, ran his first draft in 2014, and landed his current title in 2017. Since 2014, Dallas has drafted 10 Pro Bowlers, and while the Cowboys are generally restrained in free agency, McClay has had some success in finding contributors on modest FA contracts.

McClay, who is Black, has appeared on the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s list of recommended GM hires on multiple occasions, but he turned down interview requests in the 2016-18 hiring cycles. Though there have been no public reports of interview requests since 2018, that could be because other teams are aware of how difficult it would be to pry McClay from Dallas.

“I realize what my role and my structure is, what we do here,” McClay said. “I feel good about what we are doing. That is the job I am happy with now. If an opportunity comes up that makes sense, sure I will look at it. But I am happy where I am now. I am happy with the job, the role and how we do things.”

While McClay does not currently have the full range of authority that he would as GM, his voice carries a great deal of weight in the club’s collaborative personnel process, which also includes input from both Joneses and head coach Mike McCarthy“I’m happy with the job and the role and the way it is here because of the way we work and do things together,” McClay said.

When asked if he feels pressure to accept a GM job in order to continue paving the way for other minority candidates, he replied, “I’m a grown man. I know I’m black. The pressure is from the outside saying, ‘oh, you have to do’…I don’t have to do anything. The thing that I have to do for any African-American person who is trying to get into personnel, what I’ve got to do is be the best at my job, then they can see. You’ve got to do your job first, so I’m doing my job to the best of my availability first.”

As noted above, McClay left open the possibility of taking a GM position if the right opportunity presents himself. When asked what such an opportunity would look like, he responded, “you want to make sure the top structure is right. How many picks do they have? What’s there? What’s the team? Got to have a quarterback. … So many different things you would consider. So when the time comes and I have the time to look at it and put that foot forward that I want to do that, then I will look at all the different factors. I don’t consider it because it’s here right now that’s most important.”

The Cowboys and McClay agreed to a three-year extension earlier this year, and Jerry Jones, who said he considers McClay as qualified as anyone he has ever been around in terms of GM potential, is happy to have one of his top lieutenants in the fold during the team’s current window of contention.

NFC East Rumors: Cowboys, McClay, Minshew, Eagles

Cowboys’ owner and general manager Jerry Jones participated in an interview with a local Dallas radio station on Friday in which he aired out some of his frustrations with the team’s 2021 season. He vocalized some frustrations about one of the team’s top cap hits, wide receiver Amari Cooper, not playing up to his contract. Charean Williams of NBC Sports wrote a bit about how Jones’s views could affect Cooper’s future with the team.

Jones voiced some problems he’s had with how and when the coaching staff decides to deal with issues plaguing the team, frustrated that these issues aren’t normally addressed until the season is over. While the ESPN article by Todd Archer held some harsh words from Jones, it doesn’t appear at this point that head coach Mike McCarthy‘s job is in jeopardy this offseason.

Here are a few more notes on the NFC East, starting with another item out of the Lone Star state:

  • Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel Will McClay reached an agreement with the team, signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the Cowboys earlier this month. Those who follow the franchise know McClay plays a large part in the Dallas front office. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report it on Twitter, ending speculation that the longtime-Cowboy staffer may pursue one of the open general manager positions.
  • After the Eagles’ Week 18 loss in a meaningless game against the Cowboys, quarterback Gardner Minshew, who started the game as Philadelphia wanted to rest an ailing Hurts, gave an interview in which he detailed a meeting from earlier in the season that he had with head coach Nick Siranni. After leading the Eagles to a win over the Jets in Week 13, Minshew questioned Sirianni on what it would take to beat out Hurts for the starting job permanently. Mike Kaye, of NJ.com, reveals how Minshew gained some insight on his position with the team, as well as some perspective from being on the team to begin with.
  • Following the Eagles’ playoff loss in Tampa Bay, 11-year veteran and four-time first-team All-Pro Jason Kelce suggested that this past NFL season may be his last. As a guest on a Philadelphia sports-radio show Thursday, Sirianni gave a peek inside his own negotiations to keep Kelce active. “I sent him two kegs of beer yesterday,” Sirianni revealed. “As long as he wants to go, we want him to go. And I’ll be trying to convince him every single day that I can to come back and play.” In an NBC Sports article, Dan Roche detailed the rest of a very complimentary conversation with the Eagles’ head coach.

Texans Request Permission To Interview Nick Caserio

The Texans have requested permission to interview Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio for their vacant GM job, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 KRIV tweets. As has been reported previously, Berman confirms that Caserio is Houston’s top choice.

Houston was in the hunt for a new GM in early 2018 as well, but New England denied the Texans’ request to interview Caserio. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, in order to hire away an executive under contract with a rival club, the hiring team must offer “the primary authority over all personnel decisions related to the signing of free agents, the selection of players in the College Draft, trades, and related decisions; and . . . the primary responsibility for coordinating other football activities with the head coach.” And, even if the hiring team offers those responsibilities, the incumbent club can still block the interview if its season has not yet ended.

It sounds as though the Texans are prepared to offer Caserio full GM responsibilities rather than make him a “GM Light” who would cede significant power to head coach Bill O’Brien. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, New England was able to prevent Caserio and director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort from interviewing for the Texans’ GM job last year only because the Pats’ season hadn’t ended yet. This time around, though, the Patriots cannot prevent their executives from hearing Houston’s pitch.

That is, of course, if they are even interested. It would be difficult for an exec to leave the friendly confines of Foxborough for uncharted waters elsewhere, and the quick and unexpected firing of former Houston GM Brian Gaine would certainly be cause for concern. On the other hand, the Texans do have a roster that looks capable of immediate contention, and with a young and promising QB in Deshaun Watson, a first-time GM could certainly do worse than land with Houston.

The Texans have already interviewed Ray Farmer and plan to interview Martin Mayhew. One name that is not on the agenda as of yet is Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay, as Calvin Watkins of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Watkins expects Houston to reach out to McClay, but he does not expect McClay to leave his current position.

Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends GM Candidates

The Fritz Pollard Alliance has released its annual list of minority candidates for general manager vacancies. Much like the latest batch of recommended coaching hires, the suggested GM list is more than twice as long as last year’s. 

[RELATED: Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends Head Coaching Candidates]

Here’s the full rundown, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link):

  • Ray Agnew (Rams)
  • Joey Clinkscales (Raiders)
  • Quentin Harris (Cardinals)
  • Alonzo Highsmith (Browns)
  • Brad Holmes (Rams)
  • Champ Kelly (Bears)
  • Martin Mayhew (49ers, ex-Lions GM)
  • Will McClay (Cowboys)
  • Jimmy Raye III (Lions)
  • Jerry Reese (ex-Giants GM)
  • Doug Whaley (ex-Bills GM)
  • Doug Williams (Redskins)

 

Clinkscales, Highsmith, McClay, and Williams were all featured on last year’s list, but none of those executives landed GM jobs. The only executive from the last round of recommendations who did not carry over to this year was Ray Farmer, the former Browns GM who is currently serving as a senior consultant with the Rams.

Of the dozen suggested executives on this list, only three sat for GM interviews in the last cycle: Mayhew (Panthers), Raye (Texans), and Whaley (Packers). McClay was asked to interview for the Texans opening, but declined the opportunity and instead signed a two-year extension to stay with the Cowboys. McClay may garner consideration again this time around, but he might not be interested in leaving Dallas.

Cowboys Extend Exec Will McClay

The Cowboys are holding on to vice president of player personnel Will McClay. After the McClay declined an opportunity to interview with the Texans about their GM opening, the team rewarded him with a two-year extension, as ESPN.com’s Todd Archer writes. Will McClay (vertical)

The new deal, presumably, comes with a pay raise for his loyalty. The Cowboys wanted to keep McClay, a widely respected and highly sought after talent evaluator, even though he his blocked from the GM job with Jerry Jones in command.

As Archer notes, the Cowboys have drafted four Pro Bowl players – Zack Martin, Demarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott – since McClay took over the college and pro personnel departments in 2014. In that span they’ve also tapped 14 players who start or play key roles for the team.

Cowboys’ McClay Turns Down Texans Interview

Another Texans GM candidate bites the dust. On Wednesday morning, Cowboys exec Will McClay confirmed that he has turned down an opportunity to interview for the Texans’ GM vacancy (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer).Will McClay (vertical)

The Cowboys did right by McClay and granted him permission to speak with Houston. However, he is choosing to remain with Dallas as the leader of the personnel department. McClay has held the position since 2014 and built a reputation as one of the league’s best scouting talents.

So far, the Texans have been denied permission to interview the Eagles’ Joe Douglas and Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort of the Patriots. They were hoping to sit down with Brian Gutekunst, but the Packers took him off of the board by giving him their own GM job.

For a full rundown of Houston’s GM search (and a recap of Green Bay’s), check out PFR’s 2018 General Manger Search Tracker.

Latest On Texans, Cowboys Exec Will McClay

Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay says he has permission to speak with the Texans regarding their vacant general manager position, but he has yet to be contacted by Houston, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) reported earlier today that McClay had declined to interview with the Texans. Houston requested permission to interview McClay earlier this morning.Texans Helmet (Vertical)

As PFR’s 2018 General Manger Search Tracker indicates, the Texans’ list of potential candidates is quickly winnowing, as they’ve been denied permission to interview the Eagles’ Joe Douglas and the Patriots’ Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort. Brian Gutekunst, meanwhile, was expected to interview in Houston but was promoted to become Green Bay’s GM earlier today.

While internal candidate Jimmy Raye III has also been mentioned as an option for the Texans, the clear favorite for the position is Bills vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine. Peter Schrager of NFL.com reported last week that Gaine — who previously spent three years in Houston — was the frontrunner for the vacancy, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) reiterated today that Gaine should be expected to return to the Texans.

Texans Request Interview With Will McClay

The Texans are continuing to search for a new GM, and they have requested an interview with Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay, as Albert Breer of The MMQB tweets. Just two days ago, we learned that Houston was eyeing McClay and Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, though the Eagles have denied the Texans’ request to interview Douglas.

Texans Helmet (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2018 NFL General Manager Search Tracker]

It could be equally difficult to pry McClay from Dallas, as Breer notes. McClay is highly respected around the league, and he is among the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended minority candidates for GM jobs this offseason.

Earlier today, it was reported that the Patriots denied the Texans’ request to interview Patriots executive Nick Caserio and Monti Ossenfort. However, it was also reported that, despite that denial, Houston could still interview Caserio and Ossenfort once the Patriots’ season ends, and since Dallas’ season is already over, the Cowboys may not be able to block the Texans’ request to meet with McClay. They could, though, give McClay a raise in order to keep him around.

Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News recently wrote that he does not expect McClay to depart for a GM position just yet, as he has a great deal of say with the Cowboys, enjoys working with other members of the team’s front office, and is determined to bring another Super Bowl to Dallas.

Texans Eyeing Douglas, McClay For GM Job

The Texans are showing interest in Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas and Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay for their GM vacancy, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). They join Bills vice president of player personnel Brian Gaine, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, and Patriots director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort as candidates tied to the opening. Texans Helmet (Vertical)

[RELATED: 2018 NFL General Manager Search Tracker]

Douglas was not included in the league’s annual list of prospective GM candidates, but he has wielded considerable influence over the Eagles in his year-and-a-half with the team. This past year, top exec Howie Roseman gave Douglas more control over the draft board that he has to previous lieutenants. Owner Jeffrey Lurie also recognizes the role that Douglas has had in the team’s success.

“The hiring of Joe Douglas, I thought, was the pivotal moment of the last year,” said Lurie.

Several teams have failed to lure McClay away from the Cowboys, but this could be the year that he finally leaves the nest. He is among the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended minority candidates for GM jobs this offseason.

 

The Texans’ next GM will reportedly have roster control over head coach Bill O’Brien. But, in an interesting twist, O’Brien will be a part of the four-man team in charge of the hiring process along with McNair, team president Jamey Rootes, and vice chairman/CEO Cal McNair.

The GM job opened up this week when Rick Smith announced that he will be taking a leave of absence to care for his wife as she battles breast cancer. Both parties left the door open to Smith returning to his role as GM at some point, but that seems unlikely if a permanent hire is made. At minimum, the plan is for Smith to remain with the organization and carry the title of Executive Vice President.

Texans vice president of football operations/assistant general manager Jimmy Raye III may also be in the mix for the job, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

 

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Jones, Giants, Webb

A look at the NFC East:

  • When speaking to reporters at Wednesday’s meetings, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hinted that he wants to dial back the power of the commissioner’s office (Twitter link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe). “There’s nobody that doesn’t see the need for changes in the NFL in several areas. … One of it is an antiquated constitution, an antiquated situation as to the power of his commissioner,” Jones said.
  • Giants interim GM Kevin Abrams says he would like to see rookie Davis Webb get some playing time down the stretch (Twitter link via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post). However, he added that “you can only play one quarterback at a time” and said that interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo will have the final call on the team’s QB situation.
  • Several teams have failed to lure Cowboys senior director of college and pro personnel Will McClay in the past, but there is a feeling that he might be interested in the Giants‘ GM vacancy, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes. McClay is in charge of the Cowboys’ drafts and they have had a strong track record in recent years. McClay is among the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended minority candidates for GM jobs this offseason.