Ryan Cowden

Front Office Notes: Hinkie, Packers, Titans

Sam Hinkie developed an interesting reputation in the NBA, taking a unique path toward rebuilding the Philadelphia 76ers during his run as their GM. He set them on their current course via historic tanking over a years-long endeavor dubbed “The Process” — one that led to the team making several lottery picks, two of those becoming Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Although Hinkie stepped down from his post in 2016, his work looks much better after those two prospects became stars and spearheaded Philly into the playoffs this season. And an NFL team took the time to pick his brain this week. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (subscription required) the Broncos brought in the 40-year-old executive for an analytics powwow. Hinkie spoke to the Broncos’ analytics department, as well as members of their scouting branch, football administration and conditioning staffs this week, per Jhabvala, on how to best use the data teams are now collecting.

Here’s the latest from some front offices around the league.

  • Green Bay will go with a two-man setup in a key role under GM Brian Gutekunst. Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowski will rise to the roles of co-player personnel directors for the Packers, the team announced. Sullivan previously operated as the Packers’ director of college scouting, doing so for two seasons, while Wojchichowski was the team’s pro personnel director in 2017.
  • Gutekunst also made some adjustments to the team’s scouting staff. Matt Malaspina will rise to Sullivan’s old job. A 20-plus-year NFL veteran, Malaspina was hired as a Packers college scout in 2017. The Packers promoted Sam Seale to a national scouting role after he spent time working primarily as a west region scout, per PackersNews.com. Chad Brinker will now work as Green Bay’s assistant director of pro scouting and serve as a salary cap analyst, while Pat Moore will come over from the Browns and work as a college scout for the Packers. While former Packers exec John Dorsey is now the Browns’ GM, Moore spent five years in Cleveland working under previous regimes. Former NFL defensive back Brandian Ross will make greater inroads into the scouting world. The Packers are promoting the 28-year-old, who played for three teams from 2012-15 after coming into the league as a UDFA out of Youngstown State, to a college scouting role after he spent last year as a scouting assistant. Luke Benuska will also earn greater responsibility; he’ll work as a college scout after serving as a pro scout.
  • The Titans made a few adjustments to their staff on Friday. Most notably, player personnel director Ryan Cowden will now serve as the franchise’s VP of player personnel, TitansOnline.com’s Terry McCormick reports (on Twitter). Tennessee brought in Cowden two years ago to that player personnel director role. Previously, he spent 16 seasons with the Panthers, finishing his years there as Carolina’s assistant director of college scouting. Additionally, Kevin Turks will now serve as Titans assistant director of pro personnel and Rob Reiderer will work as a scouting assistant.

Front Office Notes: Ravens, Panthers, Broncos

We heard yesterday that longtime Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will step down from his role following the 2018 season. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun passed along a quote from the executive regarding the move (via Twitter):

“I will remain as the Ravens’ GM through the 2018 season and continue my role directing free agency and the draft,” he said. “After that, Eric (DeCosta) will take over as our GM and assume all the duties that come with that, including heading our personnel department and directing free agency and the draft. I plan to remain with the Ravens in a significant position in personnel and help us win more Super Bowls. We have planned this succession over the last five years.”

Let’s take a look at some more front office notes from around the NFL…

  • The Panthers‘ interview with general manager candidate Martin Mayhew took place on Friday, the club announced today. Mayhew, the Lions’ GM from 2008-15, has spent time with the Giants and — currently — the 49ers since being fired in Detroit. Meanwhile, reports had indicated Titans executive Ryan Cowden may be a candidate for the Panthers’ general manager vacancy, but no interview has been scheduled to this point, tweets Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. In sum, Carolina’s contenders include Lake Dawson (Bills), Jimmy Raye III (Texans), Mayhew, and incumbent interim GM Marty Hurney, who is viewed as the frontrunner for the position.
  • The Panthers are seemingly on the market, and commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters (including NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport) that the NFL believes Carolina is a great market. Ultimately, the commissioner believes the organization’s current ownership is looking for a buyer that will keep the team in Charlotte.
  • Goodell confirmed that the Broncos have been operating “in full compliance with league guidelines” in regards to the Broncos’ ownership structure through the Pat Bowlen Trust. “They are in compliance with our rules. They have been very thoughtful. They have done a terrific job of leading that franchise over the last several years as Pat’s focused on his health issues,” Goodell said (via Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com). Bowlen stepped away from his role back in 2014 so he could focus on his fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The trust was established to ensure that franchise would continue to run smoothly in his absence. Goodell did point out the the trustees will ultimately have to decide who the primary owner will be.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Panthers Set Up GM Interviews For Next Week

Though interim general manager Marty Hurney is the frontrunner to be named the Panthers new GM, the team has also scheduled interviews with a pair of external candidates for next week, the Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person writesMarty Hurney (vertical)

Those two candidates are Texans assistant general manager Jimmy Raye III and Bills assistant college scouting director Lake Dawson. Both Raye and Dawson, as Person notes, satisfies the Rooney Rule that requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate.

Though a time has not been divulged, the Panthers are also expected to sit down with Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden, who formerly served as a scout with Carolina.

Raye, a former player with the Rams, joined the Houston front office after stints with the Colts, as vice president of football operations, and Chargers, as director of player personnel. He has 23 years of experience in the NFL and previously interview for the Texans GM job earlier this month. Dawson joined the Bills in May 2017 following a stint as Cleveland’s national scout. He served as a receiver for six seasons before getting into college and pro scouting.

Hurney, who rejoined the Panthers following the dismissal of Dave Gettleman in the 2017 offseason, will not have a formal interview. His contract runs through June and has been backed by head coach Ron Rivera. In his one season on the job, Hurney dealt top wideout Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo, which led to Carolina’s passing improvement down the stretch.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Panthers’ GM Candidates

The Panthers shocked the NFL world earlier today by firing general manager Dave Gettleman, but they may have done so with candidates in mind. Carolina “loves” Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden, Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, and Panthers director of college scouting Jeff Morrow, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.Panthers Helmet (Featured)

[RELATED: Potential Candidates For Panthers GM Job]

All three potential contenders for the Carolina position have ties to the Panthers organization. Cowden, who interviewed for the Chiefs’ vacancy last month, spent 16 years with the Panthers before taking a position with Tennessee last summer. Likewise, Schoen worked for Carolina from 2001-08, and is now under the employ of former Panthers executive Brandon Beane in Buffalo. Morrow, the only internal candidate named in Florio’s report, was promoted to director of college scouting as part of a Panthers’ personnel reshuffling in May.

As Florio notes in a separate piece, it seems unlikely the Panthers would move on from Gettleman at this time of year without having a general idea on replacements. However, given the timing of the move, an interim general manager could also make sense, as Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer wrote earlier today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Potential Candidates For Panthers GM Job

To the surprise of many, the Panthers are in search of a new general manager. It’s too early to know who will be in the mix for the job, but speculation is already rampant among those in the know. Here are the early potential candidates for Carolina:

  • Seahawks executive Trent Kirchner spent eight years in Carolina as a scout and could be among those considered, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network tweets. Kirchner interviewed for the Colts and 49ers GM positions earlier this offseason before they went to Chris Ballard and John Lynch, respectively.
  • Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Panthers director of player personnel Don Gregory are two names to watch, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Cowden was among those to interview for the Chiefs vacancy this summer and spent 16 years working for the Panthers before joining Tennessee.
  • The Panthers’ highest ranking personnel executive left in the building Mark Koncz, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. He was promoted to personnel director in May from pro director.
  • It’s “just a hunch,” but Alex Marvez of The Sporting News (on Twitter) wouldn’t be surprised if former Chiefs GM John Dorsey ultimately becomes the Panthers’ next GM.
  • The Panthers likely going to go with an interim GM rather than rush to a decision one month before the season starts, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets. With that in mind, former GM Marty Hurney makes some sense. Hurney, who was relieved of his post as GM during the 2012 season, currently works for ESPN Radio in Charlotte. Under his watch, the Panthers drafted some of the team’s biggest stars, including Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Thomas Davis.

Brett Veach, Louis Riddick Favorites For Chiefs GM?

Although the Chiefs are interviewing Titans director of player personnel Ryan Cowden today, he’s not currently the frontrunner for the Kansas City vacancy, Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com reports. Instead, Chiefs co-director of player personnel Brett Veach and ESPN commentator Louis Riddick are considered the “strongest candidates” for the job, per McCormick. Indeed, a “growing belief” exists around the league that Veach will end up being promoted, tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

Given that head coach Andy Reid is now “running the show” in Kansas City following the firing of ex-GM John Dorsey, familiarity with Reid seems to be playing an integral role in the club’s general manager search. Veach, of course, has worked with Reid with the Chiefs and also spent time with him in Philadelphia. Riddick, too, has a relationship with Reid based on the pair’s time with the Eagles.

The Chiefs are expected to interview Veach, whose name was tossed out during the Bills GM hunt, at some point this week. Riddick, meanwhile, is a candidate for the Kansas City despite his public denial. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Monday that the Chiefs have reached out to Riddick’s representation, but perhaps not Riddick himself.

As our Chiefs GM Search Tracker shows, Cowden, Veach, and Riddick are three of six candidates who have been linked to the Chiefs’ vacancy. Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer will interview this week, Chiefs co-director of player personnel Mike Borgonzi has been mentioned as a contender, and Vikings assistant general manager George Paton declined an interview.

Chiefs Notes: GM Search, Hali, Dorsey

Here’s a look at the Chiefs:

  • It’s clear that coach Andy Reid is running the Chiefs organization based on the names that have come up early in the team’s GM search, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. Pelissero’s comment came after KC requested an interview with George Paton, though the Viking assistant GM turned down the opportunity to be considered. Pelissero rightly notes that Paton should be in the running again for GM jobs in January. By that point, there could be better jobs available.
  • The Chiefs’ interview with Titans Director of Player Personnel Ryan Cowden will take place on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Cowden is one of a handful of outside names to come up in the Chiefs’ GM search. To keep track of all candidates under consideration in Kansas City, check out PFR’s Chiefs GM search tracker.
  • Count Chiefs veteran linebacker Tamba Hali among those who were not pleased with the firing of GM John Dorsey, as Conor Orr of NFL.com writes. “From a subjective opinion, I wasn’t too pleased,” Hali said on NFL Network. “I’m really fond of John. Mr. Dorsey, he’s done a tremendous job since he’s been with the organization so everything that happened the past week really caught a lot of us off guard. But I’m sure the Hunt family knows exactly what they’re doing with the re-signing of our coach Andy Reid. I think everything will be fine but Mr. Dorsey will be missed with the Chiefs.” Hali, who has been with the Chiefs since being drafted by the team in 2006, is under contract with the team for two more seasons.
  • Despite his denials, it sounds like ESPN’s Louis Riddick is in the running for the Chiefs’ GM job.

Chiefs Request Interviews With Two Execs

The Chiefs have requested permission to speak with Titans Director of Player Personnel Ryan Cowden and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer for their GM job, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). If permission is granted, then the executives will become the first outside candidates to interview for the vacancy.

On Monday morning, we learned that Vikings executive George Paton declined the opportunity to be considered for the Chiefs job. In theory, that means that Cowden and Fitterer will have a little less competition for the position, provided that they are actually looking to take the job.

Fitterer has been in the mix for multiple GM jobs, including the Colts and 49ers earlier this year. He was also being considered for a top job with the Eagles before removing himself from consideration. The Seahawks have enjoyed great success in recent years, particularly when it comes to building through the draft and discovering talented undrafted free agents. While John Schneider oversees the operation, Fitterer and Trent Kirchner have been instrumental in building the roster.

After 16 years with the Panthers, Cowden was hired by the Titans in 2016 to oversee all areas of the scouting department, including collegiate scouting, NFL scouting, advance scouting, and international scouting for the draft, free agency, and upcoming opponents. Titans GM Jon Robinson offered glowing praise of Cowden at the time of the hire.

When I was first hired by the Patriots, Ryan was promoted by Carolina to handle the Southeast and we cut our teeth together in that region scouting,” Robinson said. “We were both learning the ropes, going to many of the same places and had a lot of interaction through the years on the road. He has a strong eye for talent, he has developed good managerial skills over the years and in the team-building process it will be nice to get his take, as they have put together very good teams there in Carolina over the years.”

Titans Hire Ryan Cowden As Director Of Player Personnel

The Titans have officially hired Ryan Cowden as the team’s Director of Player Personnel, as Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com writes. Cowden previously served as the Panthers’ college scouting director. Titans Helmet (Featured)

Cowden, who spent 16 years with Carolina, will oversee all areas of the scouting department. That includes collegiate scouting, NFL scouting, advance scouting, and international scouting for the draft, free agency, and upcoming opponents.

Ryan will oversee both pro and college scouting,” GM Jon Robinson said. “When I was first hired by the Patriots, Ryan was promoted by Carolina to handle the Southeast and we cut our teeth together in that region scouting. We were both learning the ropes, going to many of the same places and had a lot of interaction through the years on the road. He has a strong eye for talent, he has developed good managerial skills over the years and in the team-building process it will be nice to get his take, as they have put together very good teams there in Carolina over the years. I like the combination of our experiences in the league and on a personal level I have always trusted and respected him.”

In related moves, the Titans moved some of their current personnel to new roles. Dale Thompson moves to the West Coast region, Brandon Taylor to the Southeast, Wes Slay will cover the Midwest, and Dennis Polian will be a pro scout. As previously reportedMarv Sunderland and Mike Yowarsky will not be returning. Sunderland, a scout with 39 years in the game, took the dismissal to heart.

It is the ugly part of the game, but new leadership has the prerogative to make changes,” said Sunderland, who has 39 total years of experience as a scout. “The Titans will be much better next fall and are headed in the right direction. Would I prefer to be there to watch Marcus [Mariota] and the team flourish? Absolutely. But Jon has control of the football part of it and I’m sure he wants his own people. He ran a good draft and the new draft picks should represent themselves very well.”

Personnel Dept. Notes: Titans, Lions, Eagles

Following the draft, Titans general manager Jon Robinson dismissed scouts Mike Yowarsky and Marv Sunderland, as Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com writes. Yowarsky was with the Titans for three seasons while Sunderland has spent the last nine with Tennessee.

It is the ugly part of the game, but new leadership has the prerogative to make changes,” said Sunderland, who has 39 total years of experience as a scout. “The Titans will be much better next fall and are headed in the right direction. Would I prefer to be there to watch Marcus [Mariota] and the team flourish? Absolutely. But Jon has control of the football part of it and I’m sure he wants his own people. He ran a good draft and the new draft picks should represent themselves very well.”

As I noted yesterday when passing along word of the Lions parting ways with two of their scouts, teams with new general managers often wait until after the draft to shake up their personnel departments, with those new GMs bringing in their own people. That’s the case with both Bob Quinn in Detroit and Robinson in Tennessee.

In fact, Quinn has already made a new hire, bringing in a veteran scout with whom he’s very familiar. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press details, the Lions have hired Jay Muraco, formerly of the Chiefs and Patriots, as a regional scout. Quinn and Muraco were both a part of New England’s scouting department from 2000 to 2008.

Here’s more on personnel department changes around the NFL:

  • The Panthers‘ personnel department is undergoing some changes, though those changes involve employees leaving of their own accord rather than being fired. Per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, Carolina’s college scouting director Ryan Cowden is leaving to take a position with the Titans, while college scout John Peterson is retiring.
  • Cowden will be joining the Titans as the team’s new director of player personnel, as reported by Person and confirmed by Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com. According to McCormick, Cowden will serve as Robinson’s “right-hand man in the personnel department,” with director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield and director of pro personnel Brian Gardner both reporting to him.
  • The Eagles requested and were granted permission to interview Bears college scouting director Joe Douglas for their personnel chief job, two sources tell Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Philadelphia put its search for the position on hold in February, with the intention of resuming it after the draft, and while Douglas isn’t a lock to get the job, he’s a “very strong candidate,” says Biggs.

Zach Links contributed to this post.