Tom Rudawky is a former NFL scout for the New York Giants who previously worked in football operations for the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. He now writes for The 33rd Team among other publications.
For NFL General Managers, the opportunity to make drastic, team-altering moves is, for the most part, over. There certainly are still some free agents available that can help teams win, and trades can (and will) always happen. However, with free agency and the draft now complete, the rosters we currently see will remain fairly steady until the regular season begins. So, given the state of each roster, what executives have positioned themselves to potentially win the annual NFL Executive of the year award? Well, here are three strong candidates.
George Paton, Denver Broncos
Just as Nathaniel Hackett is a prime coach of the year candidate, Paton makes a lot of sense as a potential Executive of the year pick. Since Paton was named Broncos General Manager in January 2021, it’s hard to find fault with much of what he’s done. In his first two draft picks in his inaugural draft as an NFL GM, he selected CB Patrick Surtain III and HB Javonte Williams – both of whom look like long-term winning starters. Despite a solid effort by Paton in year one, the Broncos ended up with an underwhelming 7-10 record, leading to the firing of former head coach Vic Fangio. The Broncos primary issue was clear – they needed to upgrade the quarterback position in a big way. In an offseason where a lot of the game’s high profile signal callers were on the move, Paton wasn’t asleep at the wheel. In fact, he was very, very aggressive in acquiring nine-time pro bowler Russell Wilson to lead the Broncos.
Adding Russell Wilson to a roster that is already on very good footing now gives the Broncos an opportunity to contend for a Super Bowl. With an already stingy defense in place and an explosive group of playmakers to compliment Wilson, it’s easy to see how Denver could be a force to be reckoned with this year. Yes, plenty of this roster was assembled before Paton arrived, but he has still done admirable work in continuing to bolster the roster and enhance the young core of players that will serve as the lifeblood of the team for years to come. If the Broncos reach their full potential and win big in 2021, there’s no doubt Paton will be recognized for it – and deservedly so.
Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles
Roseman, the 2017 Executive of the year, has put together a solid few years building the Eagles roster back up to contention. A couple years ago, the Eagles roster looked like one filled with far too many aging players that were on the decline, which caused some to wonder if the Eagles were in for a total rebuild. Now, this looks like a team primed to compete with Dallas in the NFC East. Some of Roseman’s biggest offseason moves include trading for star wide receiver AJ Brown, signing underrated pass rusher Haason Reddick to a three-year deal, and drafting college defensive stars Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis.
Acquiring Brown was a huge move, as the Eagles needed another top tier wide receiver to pair with ascending youngster Devonta Smith. Now, there aren’t any excuses for third-year pro Jalen Hurts – and the expectations will be as high as they’ve ever been for him in 2022. Some remain skeptical of Hurts’ future as the long-term answer at the position for Philadelphia, and those concerns come with some merit. After all, Hurts still struggles with accuracy at times and does have his limitations as a pocket passer. However, drafting Hurts in the 2nd round in the 2020 draft is most definitely a move Roseman deserves substantial credit for – even if Hurts ends up not being “the guy” for the Eagles. In a move that was publicly questioned by many, Roseman acquired a young, dynamic signal-caller that eventually paved the way for the Eagles to be able to part with Carson Wentz.
So, what type of success would the Eagles have to experience in 2022 for Roseman to be picked as the first repeat winner since Ted Thompson in 2011? One would think the Eagles would have to usurp the Cowboys as NFC East champions, and likely win a playoff game or two. Moreover, if AJ Brown takes on a prominent role, Jalen Hurts plays winning football, and the Eagles young players continue to take steps forward, it’s easy to see how Roseman could receive a lot of votes for the award.
While he remains a polarizing executive at times, Roseman has put together an impressive run as Eagles General Manager – one which could potentially lead to another Executive of the year award in 2022.
Tom Telesco, Los Angeles Chargers
Telesco, who’s quietly been leading the Chargers since 2013, has a golden opportunity to step into the forefront in 2022. The Chargers, who have maintained an above-average roster consistently under Telesco’s tenure, received a franchise-altering boost in 2020 when star QB Justin Herbert was selected sixth overall. After two years, there’s no disputing Herbert’s skill set – he’s a special young player with massive upside. Telesco absolutely nailed the selection of Herbert, ushering in a new era of Chargers football.
Telesco appears to have hit on another major decision – the hiring of head coach Brandon Staley prior to the 2021 season. Staley is an innovative and bright football mind and was a solid hire for LA. Following a 9-8 record in 2021, Telesco and Staley hit the ground running, making multiple moves that suggest the franchise expects plenty more wins in 2022. The biggest of those moves included trading for elite pass rusher Khalil Mack and signing impact starters Sebastian Joseph-Day and J.C. Jackson. On paper, Los Angeles figures to be a playoff-caliber club in 2022 with the potential to make a real run in the AFC considering they have a star in Justin Herbert steering the ship.
Telesco has done a good job leading the Chargers for a while now, as they’ve maintained a fairly steady on-field product in his nine seasons at the helm. If the team takes a big step forward in 2022, Telesco could finally receive some well-deserved recognition for his efforts.