And then there was one.
The Las Vegas Raiders are the lone NFL team that has a vacant general manager spot as the other three squads filled their empty GM roles this week. The New York Giants got the hiring started when they selected Joe Schoen (Buffalo Bills) to be their new general manager on Jan. 21. The Chicago Bears followed suit tabbing Ryan Poles (Kansas City Chiefs) on Jan. 25 and the Minnesota Vikings scooped up Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Cleveland Browns) a day later.
So what gives in the desert?
Owner Mark Davis has cast a wide net in search of the next person to lead the player personnel department in Las Vegas. The Raiders owner is giving off last-to-the-table vibes, however, his slow methodical approach to the team’s general manager opening is refreshing. It shows a more calculated assessment than a knee-jerk hire. Davis is taking a full-canvas approach and getting a broader perspective by taking his time and picking an eclectic group of candidates to talk to. There’s no tunnel vision or unicorn chasing (like his pursuit and hire of Jon Gruden) in this hiring round.
Six known candidates emerged for the Raiders general manager opening on Monday with interviews reportedly completed and schedule, while requests were filed for others. We say “known” here as the Silver & Black aren’t known for confirming or denying news items, and there is a chance the team looked or is looking into candidates that haven’t surfaced in the media waters.
Like on Tuesday. Vegas reportedly completed interviews with Pittsburgh Steelers pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt and current Atlanta Falcons scout and former Tennessee Titans general manager Ruston Webster for the GM gig.
The #Raiders recently conducted a pair of GM interviews: They spoke with #Falcons national scout and former #Titans GM Ruston Webster, source said, and they interviewed #Steelers Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt, per @TomPelissero.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 26, 2022
The Eclectic Eight:
- Trey Brown, Cincinnati Bengals scout (completed), 36 years old
- Champ Kelly, Chicago Bears assistant director of player personnel (completed), 42 years old
- Dave Ziegler, New England Patriots director of player personnel (completed), 38 years old
- Brandon Hunt, Pittsburgh Steelers pro scouting coordinator (completed), 40 years old
- Ruston Webster, Atlanta Falcons scout (completed), 59 years old
- Dwayne Joseph, internal, Raiders director of pro scouting, 49 years old
- Ed Dodds, Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager, 41 years old
- John Spytek, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vice president of player personnel, 40 years old
A varied group of personnel peeps from both the AFC and NFC (although the group leans towards the American Football Conference side of things). It’s also a diverse set of candidates as Brown, Kelly, Hunt, and Joseph are black. Not only that, but the seven are a solid cross section of young and established with Brown being the youngest at age 35 and Webster the elder statesmen at 59. League diversity is a topic of both conversation and dissection as the NFL hopes teams become more diverse when it comes to general manager and head coach hires.
Raiders history of being inclusive and diverse dictates the team is going about the hiring process as it’s always been: Finding the best candidate no matter age or race.
That’s a notion Troy Vincent, NFL vice president, harps upon.
“In 2003, for the record, the Rooney Rule was a necessary tool. It was promoting fair and equitable hiring,” Vincent told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, regarding the Rooney Rule and its impact. “But we’ve got to look at this whole hiring practice differently. Why are we still legislating for people of color to have an interview? Listen to how that sounds. Twenty-three days into 2022, we’re still talking about legislating a policy that requires people of color to be part of the interview process.
“We’ve got to look at all aspects of this. But eventually, I hope that next year during this conversation, we’re not talking about Rooney Rule requirements. We’re talking about true football inclusion. That ownership and clubs are just hiring the best people to run their club from a coaching standpoint and to run their personnel department. Whether that’s male or female, young, mature. It doesn’t matter. But just finding the right people and making sure all are included in that process.”
NFL senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane, who is making the media rounds along with Vincent, echoes the league VPs sentiments.
“We are following each club with their process, ensuring that it’s comprehensive, making sure that they’re really doing the hard-core research to identify all the great talent that’s out there, minority talent, overall talent and giving everybody a fair shot to compete for these roles,” Beane told the Associated Press a week ago. “Also, looking a little bit out of the box and not always being traditional, there’s wonderful talent out there.”
Outside of the box just sounds so Raider, doesn’t it?
Davis is about as comprehensive as one could get in this hiring cycle. He’s leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding a new general manager to help shape his Raiders. And despite it being a slow process compared to the other three teams who have interviewed and selected a new GM, it’s the right way to go about it. The candidate pool is still very strong and hasn’t dried up. And Davis will make a decision he believes is best for his Raiders business. (Stressing best for Raiders as the hire will likely bring upon naysayers who disagree with the eventual selection.)
The Raiders were the last team to make a move at general manager by dismissing Mike Mayock. And now, Vegas will be the last squad to hire a new one. Just about par for the course for the Silver & Black, no?
But being the last to the table with still plenty left to eat isn’t a bad thing for Davis and his Raiders.