The holiday season is a time for celebrating but it also means the uneventful exit of many around the league.
Each year we see turnover with head coaching positions but also front-office executives. While coaching candidates are always a highly debated topic, the marriage between the new hire and general manager is more important. We have seen how the right hire can quickly turn a franchise around and the wrong one could set a team back multiple seasons.
"Black Monday," where the inevitable firing of head coaches and executives take place, is right around the corner. Who are some of the top candidates that teams will be vying for this offseason? Here are eight candidates that could fulfill some impending general manager openings in the coming months.
Ed Dodds, Assistant General Manager, Indianapolis Colts
If there is one candidate that should be circled as "the one" for every team that will have a GM position to fill, it’s Ed Dodds. As an executive in Seattle, he was the behind-the-scenes genius of what was almost a dynasty. Now, in Indianapolis as the assistant general manager, Dodds clamored the drafting of Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard.
Prior to his promotion, there were whispers it was he who stood on the table to sign of undrafted free agent Kenny Moore following the 2017 draft.
The Indianapolis Colts had lacked homegrown talent but, with the help of Dodds, they have flipped the script in a short amount of time despite the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck. The team’s quick transition and the talent has acquired shine a bright light on Dodds. Many are excited about what he could eventually become in a full-time role while running his own team, but at the moment, he sits cozy alongside Chris Ballard waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.
Nick Caserio, Director of Player Personnel, New England Patriots
Nick Caserio has been inching toward the top of the list the past few seasons. He has been a New England Patriots lifer during his entire NFL career, beginning in 2002 as an offensive coaching assistant. Caserio has flip-flopped between the coaching staff and scouting roles before landing in his current position in 2008.
After Caserio’s close ties to the organization, he was rumored to join the Houston Texans, but the Texans later announced they planned on going into the 2020 season without a GM. Although the concept hasn't been very successful outside of Foxborough, the "Patriot Way" of doing business will always be intriguing to NFL owners because of the team’s stretch of dominance over two decades.
Mike Borgonzi, Director of Football Operations, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have a long storied history of turning scouts and executives into future general managers. Mike Borgonzi seems to be the next in line after spending his entire career with the organization. After starting as the college scouting administrator in 2011, he has worked his way up the ranks.
As a 10-year NFL scout, Borgonzi has the reputation of getting his hands dirty and doing a boatload of scouting work. He enjoys the process of being in the trenches and doing homework on prospects by making various on-campus appearances despite being a “higher up.” He recently drafted the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Borgonzi has a great eye for talent which has resulted in the Chiefs becoming one of the biggest contenders in the AFC.
Scott Fitterer, Co-Director of Player Personnel, Seattle Seahawks
Scott Fitterer, a Seattle Seahawks lifer, has been with the organization since 2001. After being promoted to as the director of college scouting in 2010, he played an instrumental part in the now-famous draft classes of 2010-12 which brought in Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner.
Fitterer has a sharp eye for talent and a lasting effect on the organization after adding these franchise-changing players. His experience under the John Schneider-Pete Carroll regime is also another positive on his resume as teams around the league salivate over that type of consistency. Prior to the 2015 season, Fitterer was promoted to co-director of player personnel, along with Trent Kirchner, who's another well-respected executive in the teams front office.
George Paton, Assistant General Manager/Vice President of Player Personnel, Minnesota Vikings
George Paton, a long-tenured executive, began his NFL career in the Chicago Bears’ scouting department and eventually became the team’s assistant director of pro personnel in 2000. From there, he crossed paths with current Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman when he was with the Miami Dolphins from 2001-04. Paton worked hand-in-hand with Spielman as the director of pro personnel and the two reunited in Minnesota in 2006. Upon Spielman's promotion to full-time GM in 2012, Paton has worked as his assistant.
Paton has helped build one of the more talented rosters in the NFL with the likes of Danielle Hunter, Stefon Diggs, Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks. Paton has remained a hot commodity among other NFL teams and has interviewed for many outside roles. He was believed to be the leading candidate for the San Francisco 49ers general manager role in 2017 prior to the team electing to go with John Lynch. Paton also declined an interview request with the New York Jets in 2019 — after previously declining interviews in 2013 and 2015.