The Las Vegas Raiders hired former Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco as their new general manager, replacing Dave Ziegler, who was fired in October.
Here are some early thoughts on the promotion:
The favorite was interim general manager Champ Kelly and he was even part of the coaching hiring process. So, it was a surprise that Telesco was hired. Plus, it was a surprise that Pierce was hired before Telesco.
Partners with Pierce:
Kelly and Antonio Pierce were expected to be a package deal since they took over for Ziegler and Josh McDaniels on Halloween night. The Raiders’ 5-4 finish under this regime and the way it connected with the locker room made this the likely resolution. Telesco and Pierce has no history never worked together. Now, it’s time to move on critical offseason business.
He has experience:
One of the reasons why Telesco beat out Kelly and fellow finalist Ed Dobbs of Indianapolis was his experience. He was the Chargers’ general manager for 10 years. The other two finalists have no full-time experience in the role. Raiders’ owner Mark Davis told The Athletic last month he was a bit nervous about teaming a rookie head coach and GM. So, Telesco has a strong understanding of his role.
He knows the AFC West:
Telesco has a solid understanding of the Raiders’ roster since he was in the same division for the past decade. So, that should help him get going in the role.
Yes, it’s an important offseason in Las Vegas and after getting the coaching staff finalized, The focus will be on improving the 8-9 roster. That starts at quarterback, where the most important position on the field will be the focus point of the offseason for the second straight year in Las Vegas. Perhaps Telesco will look for a veteran or try to draft a quarterback. That may require a trade up to the top of the draft. One of Telesco’s highlights with the Chargers was the drafting of quarterback Justin Herbert with the No. 6 pick in 2020, the Raiders hope he can strike gold again. Telesco drafted an Oregon quarterback four years ago. Will he do it again in the form of Bo Nix? What Telesco does at quarterback this offseason very well may define his tenure in Las Vegas. The pressure starts now.
Moore a candidate?
It will be interesting to see if Telesco helps bring former Chargers’ coaches and staffers (and players in free agency) to Las Vegas. One name to consider may be Chargers’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore if he’s not retained by the new coach.
No Raiders’ connection:
Telesco has no ties to the Raiders unlike Kelly and Dobbs. Mark Davis often has hired people with ties to the franchise. Telesco, though, isn’t part of that history.
Mixed results with Chargers:
The Chargers had six winning seasons and five losing seasons under Telesco’s guidance. They never won the AFC West in that period. They were 11 games under .500 overall in that 11-season span. They made the playoffs three times with two postseason wins. and most of his draft picks didn’t get signed to a second contract.
The Raiders have the No. 13 draft pick in the first round and are currently expected to have about $35 million in salary-cap room with the ability to create more. So, Telesco has some tools to play with as he looks at quarterback, the offensive line, pieces on defense to improve. There, of course, is also the matter of how to handle running back Josh Jacobs’ pending free agency. It will be a busy offseason in Las Vegas and Telesco is now in charge of directing the way.