11 min read

7 Personnel Executives Who Will Be 2024 NFL General Manager Candidates

Hiring a head coach is a lot easier than hiring a general manager. When you’re hiring a coach, there is plenty of data to guide you through the decision-making process. 

If he’s an offensive coordinator, what was his offense ranked in the past 3-4 years? How many points per game did they average? If he’s a defensive coordinator, what was his defense ranked? How many sacks and takeaways did they have?

But it’s a little more complicated when hiring a general manager. There are no obvious numbers to trace a scout’s success.

The team he worked for might have a lot of good players, but how much credit does the person you’re interviewing deserve for that? What was their hit-miss percentage? How many of the team’s Pro Bowlers did they bang the table for? It’s hard to say. There usually isn’t a paper trail.

“You can’t really do this, but somebody applying for a GM job should have to walk into the interview with all of their (scouting) reports from the last three years,’’ said former NFL executive Joe Banner, an analyst for The 33rd Team. “And you should read them before you hire them.

“Some teams bring a guy in and have him watch tape and write up a few reports. But I’ve never seen or heard of anyone going beyond that. That’s better than nothing, but you really can’t tell a lot from that.

“But if you had three years worth of reports, or took reports from 3-4 years ago and were able to see how accurate they were, then you would have a pretty good idea about how good an evaluator they are.’’

While the coach typically is the public face of an NFL franchise, the general manager is the key to success. Even a great coach can’t win with bad players, which is something NFL owners are finally learning.

They’re still showing no hesitation about firing coaches after just one or two years. But general managers also are on a short leash these days. Fourteen teams have hired new general managers in the last three years.

>> READ: Top 2024 Head Coaching Candidates

 Top 2024 GM Candidates

Adam Peters, John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers

Adam Peters, Asst. GM, 49ers

When John Lynch was hired as the San Francisco 49ers’ general manage in 2017, one of the first things he did was steal the highly regarded Peters away from the Denver Broncos.

Peters spent seven years with the Broncos as an area scout, a national scout, their assistant director of college scouting and finally, their director of college scouting.

The year before Lynch, Peters and coach Kyle Shanahan arrived, the 49ers were 2-14. In the past four years, they’ve made it to the NFC Championship Game three times and the Super Bowl once.

Peters interviewed for the Giants’ GM job last year that went to Joe Schoen. He also interviewed for the Tennessee Titans GM job this year but declined an interview with Arizona for its GM opening.

“He seems to be very comfortable where he is,’’ said Mike Tannenbaum, a former NFL executive and current analyst for The 33rd Team. “But if he wants to be a GM somewhere else, he certainly will have some opportunities.’’

Ian Cunningham, Asst. GM, Bears

Cunningham is one of two personnel people on this list — Andy Weidl is the other — who learned at the Ozzie Newsome School of Scouting, aka the Baltimore Ravens.

“Guys who learned and trained under Ozzie, it was like getting a law degree from Harvard,’’ said Brian Baldinger, an NFL Network analyst. “He was hard on guys but gave them the leeway to show what they could do.

“Ozzie and the guys that trained under him, they’re not like many other guys. Even in the Ravens’ heyday, if you went to practice, Ozzie seldom was on the field. He’d be in a shed with the lawnmowers watching practice. He felt it wasn’t his job to be in the spotlight.

“He trained his scouts to work on their weaknesses, work on their blind spots. Anybody who trained under Ozzie, you have to take them seriously as a candidate when there is a job opening. It’s like coaching under Andy Reid.’’

Cunningham, 38, learned the trade under Newsome, joining the Ravens in 2008 as a personnel assistant and serving as an area scout for the team from 2013-16.

“That’s where I grew up,’’ he said. “That’s where I cut my teeth.’’

The Philadelphia Eagles hired him in 2017 to be their director of college scouting. He was promoted to assistant director of player personnel in 2019 and director of player personnel in 2021. He was hired by the Chicago Bears last year as their assistant general manager under Ryan Poles.

Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported in January that Cunningham was offered the Arizona Cardinals’ GM job that went to Monti Ossenfort but turned it down.

The Ravens had a run of six consecutive playoff appearances in the seven years Cunningham was with the organization, including a Super Bowl title in 2012. The Eagles were in the playoffs four of the five years Cunningham was with them and won a Super Bowl in 2017.

“Ian has learned from some really good guys with both the Ravens and Eagles,’’ Baldinger said. “He’s coming out of the right nests.’’

Cunningham was a two-year starting offensive lineman at the University of Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master's in education and human development.

“Ian is smart, thinks broadly, and has expertise in all of the areas that a GM needs to know,’’ Tannenbaum said. “Working for the Ravens and Eagles was great training to run your own ship.’’

Ed Dodds, Asst. GM, Colts

Dodds has two things working against him. He is employed by an organization that has made just two playoff appearances in the last eight years and works for a high-profile boss – Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard – making it hard for those under him to get any visibility or attention.

That said, Dodds is widely respected around the league and has interviewed for six GM jobs in the past three years, including with the Bears, Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022. 

He did not interview for either of the GM openings this year (Tennessee and Arizona), probably because of the stench from the Colts’ 4-12-1 record.

Dodds has been with the Colts since 2017, spending one year as the team’s vice president of player personnel before being promoted to assistant general manager. He directs the pro and college scouting departments and remade the Colts’ entire player evaluation process, implementing former Green Bay Packers GM Ron Wolf’s 1-to-9 grading system.

Before joining the Colts, Dodds spent nearly a decade with the Seattle Seahawks as a pro and college scout and senior personnel executive.

“He’s done a very good job of writing players up and looking for the right things by position,’’ said a personnel executive with another AFC team.

“Windows of opportunity tend to open and close,’’ Tannenbaum said. “If the Colts can start winning some games again, (Dodds) certainly will have some opportunities.’’

Mike Borgonzi, Asst. GM, Chiefs

Borgonzi has been with the Kansas City Chiefs for 14 years, the last two in his current position as GM Brett Veach’s top personnel lieutenant. 

He also has served as the Chiefs’ director of football operations (2018-20), director of player personnel (2015-17), director of pro scouting (2013-14), a pro personnel scout (2011-12) and manager of football operations (2010).

Veach and Reid have received the lion’s share of the credit for the Chiefs’ success. Of the 14 GM openings during the last three years, Borgonzi interviewed for just one of them – the Carolina Panthers in 2021. That job went to Scott Fitterer.

But Borgonzi, an Ivy League fullback at Brown, is starting to get noticed.

“A winning organization, it’s easy to say it’s Andy or Mahomes,’’ Tannenbaum said. “But they’ve shown a real belief in how they do things. Their front office is really smart, really talented. There’s a lot of depth there. They’ve made hard decisions, most notably letting Tyreek Hill go, and they still won a championship. They rebuilt their offensive line. Their secondary is incredibly young, but they won a Super Bowl with it. And it’s going to keep getting better.’’

JoJo Wooden, Los Angeles Chargers

JoJo Wooden, Dir. Of Player Personnel, Chargers

Wooden has been with the Los Angeles Chargers since 2013. He interviewed for the Bears’ GM job in 2022 and the Washington Commanders’ GM opening in 2021.

Wooden oversees the pro and college scouting departments for Chargers GM Tom Telesco. Before joining the Chargers, the former Syracuse linebacker spent 15 years with the New York Jets, the last six as their assistant director of player personnel.

“JoJo definitely deserves to be a GM,’’ said Tannenbaum, who was Wooden’s boss when he was the Jets’ GM. “He’s smart. He’s a natural evaluator. He gets along well with all sorts of different people. He’s as comfortable talking to an owner as he is talking to an area scout.

“The only thing JoJo doesn’t do a good job of is self-promotion. He doesn’t like bringing any attention to himself.’’

Andy Weidl, Asst. GM, Pittsburgh Steelers

Weidl is another Newsome disciple. The former Villanova offensive lineman spent a decade as an area scout for Newsome and the Ravens before joining the Eagles as their assistant director of player personnel in 2016.

He was the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel last year when he interviewed and was a finalist for the Steelers’ GM job. The Steelers ended up staying in-house and hiring Omar Khan, who had been with the organization for more than 20 years. 

But Weidl, a Pittsburgh native who began his career with the Steelers, accepted the assistant job under Khan.

Weidl isn’t looking to leave. His wife also is a Pittsburgh native. They just built a new house there. But if he gets an opportunity to run his own show somewhere, it would be hard to turn down.

“Andy is as qualified as anybody out there,’’ Baldinger said. “He learned from Ozzie. He’s pretty polished right now. He knows how to do the whole media gauntlet thing that a GM has to be able to do.

“I know he likes it in Pittsburgh. He started his whole professional journey there. He loves Mike Tomlin and loves Omar. He’s not the head guy, but he makes good money, and they listen to him. They believe they’re building something special in Pittsburgh to compete again. I think Andy would go if the right offer came along. But I don’t know that he’ll just run out of there for any job.’’

“Andy has worked for two outstanding organizations in Philly and Baltimore,’’ Tannenbaum said. “He has a big say now in Pittsburgh and how they procure talent there. He’s a little under the radar from a national perspective. But if the Steelers are successful and (QB Kenny) Pickett continues to develop the way they hope, there will be people in that organization like Andy who will get a lot of notoriety and attention.’’

Brandt Tilis, VP/Football Operations, Chiefs

Tilis is an interesting name. He’s primarily a salary cap guy, but so was Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, who has won two of the NFL’s last six Executive of the Year awards. 

Roseman’s success is changing how supposed “non-football’’ personnel people are viewed.

“Brandt writes up (scouting) reports and watches tape,’’ said a league source who knows Tilis. “He’s very smart and understands everything you need to understand as a GM, from contracts to negotiating trades to what you should look for in the people you hire under you.’’

Tilis, like Borgonzi, interviewed for the Panthers’ GM job last year. He is believed to have been the team’s second choice after Fitterer.

Tilis has been credited with the construction of Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year, $450 million contract and All-Pro guard Joe Thuney’s free agent contract. He also had a role in facilitating the Hill trade, as far as minimizing the cap implications of the trade and the acquisition of the five draft picks they got from Miami.

Others On GM Radar

— Catherine Raiche, Asst. GM, Cleveland Browns

— Brandon Brown, Asst. GM, New York Giants

— Joe Hortiz, Dir./Player Personnel, Baltimore Ravens

— John Spytek, VP/Player Personnel, Tampa Bay Bucs

— Quentin Harris, VP/Player Personnel, Arizona Cardinals

Paul Domowitch covered the Eagles and the NFL for the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer for four decades. You can follow him on Twitter at @pdomo.