Will McClay

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Pollard Alliance Releases HC, GM Candidates

The Fritz Pollard Alliance met with the NFL this week and submitted names of suggested GM and head coaching candidates. The list, which is distributed to teams each year, recommends minority candidates for openings around the league. Teryl Austin (vertical)

This year’s candidates for GM jobs are Joey Clinkscales (Raiders), Alonzo Highsmith (Packers), Ray Farmer (Rams consultant), Will McClay (Cowboys), and Doug Williams (Redskins), according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The head coaching candidates are Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Vikings DC George Edwards, Panthers DC Steve Wilks, and Titans offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Farmer has ten years of front office experience under his belt, including two as the Browns’ GM. The team went 10-22 under his watch, so wouldn’t necessarily be an exciting choice for a team this offseason. The other four suggested candidates would be first-time GMs, if hired.

Austin has been considered a bonafide head coaching candidate for some time, but he has been left in a holding pattern. In the 2016 offseason, Austin opined that two of his four interviews were done solely to satisfy the Rooney Rule. This past year, he interviewed with the Rams and Chargers.

Absent from the list is former Bills GM Doug Whaley, who received a potentially bogus interview with the Browns this week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Staff Notes: Cowboys, McClay, Saints, Welker

Several teams extended general manager interview requests to Cowboys executive Will McClay this offseason, but as he did last year, McClay resisted those overtures, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. In 2016, McClay — whose official title is senior director of college and pro personnel — turned down an invite from the Lions, who ultimately hired Bob Quinn as GM. McClay wields a strong amount of influence in Dallas, but hasn’t ruled out leaving the club for another vacancy at some point down the line, per Archer.

Here’s more on the 2017 hiring cycle:

  • The Saints were interested in hiring former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley as their linebackers coach if he didn’t secure a defensive coordinator job this year, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Bradley, one of the more respected defensive minds in the league, drew a wide swath of DC interest, as the Redskins, 49ers, and Chargers — who ultimately hired him — all interviewed him for their coordinator position. New Orleans, meanwhile, continues to interview candidates for its LBs coach vacancy.
  • Former NFL receiver Wes Welker is attending the Senior Bowl with the Texans‘ coaching staff, reports Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link), who adds that Welker is considering joining the coaching ranks. Welker, 35, last played in 2015 for the Rams. Last summer, Welker attended Dolphins’ practice sessions in a semi-coaching role, working with the club’s wideouts.
  • Longtime Pete Carroll confidant Rocky Seto is leaving the Seahawks in order to pursue a career in the ministry, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes. Seto, Seattle’s assistant head coach/defense, has coached alongside Carroll dating back to the early 2000s at USC.
  • Ex-Jets defensive backs coach Joe Danna is joining the Jaguars as the club’s assistant secondary coach, per Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Danna spent the past two seasons in New York.

Breer On GM Search, Harbaugh, Draft

When it comes to being a GM, is it more about who you know than what you know? In his latest column, Albert Breer of The MMQB spoke with one league official who suggested that the NFL’s career development advisory panel has something of a fraternity-vibe.

It’s all full of nepotism. It’s a joke. And it starts with Charley Casserly,” the personnel man said.

Casserly rejected the idea that he, Ron Wolf, Bill Polian, Ernie Accorsi, John Madden, Tony Dungy and Carl Peterson are aiming to line up their friends with jobs, but he did acknowledge that connections help.

It’s so different than it is with coaches,” Casserly said. “Coaches are so clearly defined. You know who calls the plays, you see them on TV, coordinators have press conferences. It’s just not like that in scouting. Are they pro? College? None of them are making big decisions. What you need is networking. It’s not politicking.”

Casserly was directly involved with the Jets’ coach and GM search process in 2015. Gang Green wound up hiring Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan – two former co-workers of Casserly’s.

Here’s more from Breer:

  • Breer identified the following executives as people who could immediately jump into a GM job somewhere: Chiefs VP of player personnel Chris BallardPatriots VP of player personnel Nick Caserio, Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCostaSeahawks co-director of player personnel Scott FittererTexans director of player personnel Brian GainePackers director of player personnel Brian GutekunstSeahawks co-director of player personnel Trent KirchnerCowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay, Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonoughVikings assistant GM George PatonFalcons assistant GM Scott PioliBengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin, Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf.
  • The widespread feeling in NFL circles is that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will be back in pro football eventually, even if it’s not happening right now. For his part, Harbaugh says that he is incredibly happy as the Wolverines’ coach.
  • Is Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen the next under-the-radar quarterback prospect a la Carson Wentz? It was Craig Bohl who recruited Carson Wentz to North Dakota State and he is now Allen’s coach at Wyoming. It’s hard to say whether the 6’5″, 222-pound signal caller has the same kind of talent, but his stock is rising. “He’s a big ol’ kid with a big arm, and he’s pretty athletic too,” said one AFC exec. “We gotta learn more about him, but the tools are there.” Allen, a redshirt sophomore, has plenty of time to develop.
  • Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck recently predicted that Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush will be an “incredibly high draft pick” this year. Apparently, talent evaluators do not agree. “He may get drafted late because of the [lack of] quality at the position,” said one area scout assigned to CMU. “He’s an accurate thrower with deceptive athletic ability to extend plays with his feet. Not a dynamic or explosive athlete, but good enough to avoid the rush and create at times. Average arm at best, but he’s got solid touch on intermediate and deep balls. He just lacks elite velocity.”

Lions Rumors: GM Search, Polian, Megatron

The latest from Detroit:

  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press identifies Texans executive Brian Gaine and Jaguars exec Chris Polian as two names to watch for the Lions’ general manager job, along with interim GM Sheldon White. Gaine has been mentioned as a candidate for a promotion in Houston as well.
  • The Lions are scheduling a GM interview with Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner, league sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Kirchner interviewed with the Jets last year.
  • Calvin Johnson faces some uncertainty this offseason with the Lions, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein writes. Johnson will have a $24MM cap hit with a $15.95MM cash value in 2016 and the team could save $11.1MM on the cap by letting him go.
  • The Lions have requested to interview Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay for their GM job, but he decided to stay put, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). McClay said he recently re-did his contract in Dallas and didn’t want to leave, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • Vikings exec George Paton will be declining GM interviews, as well, Birkett tweets. The Lions haven’t formally requested an interview, but he is well respected and seemed like a probable candidate for the job.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.