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Theo Epstein and 7 other names to consider for Jaguars GM job

The Jaguars fired former GM Dave Caldwell following Sunday’s loss against the Cleveland Browns.

Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are finally in the market for a new general manager.

On Sunday, owner Shad Khan made it official shortly following the team’s 10th-straight loss of the season, announcing that general manager Dave Caldwell will not return for his ninth season. Khan originally hired Caldwell prior to the 2013 season.

The Jaguars were 37-86 during the Caldwell years. The final loss would be against the Cleveland Browns, 27-25, yet another long Sunday in Jacksonville. Khan certified the action on Sunday via a statement released by the team:

“I’ve met with Dave Caldwell to express my appreciation for his service to the Jacksonville Jaguars as our general manager,” said Khan. “Dave was exceptionally committed and determined to bring a winner to Jacksonville, but unfortunately his efforts were not rewarded with the results our fans deserve and our organization expects. Our football operation needs new leadership, and we will have it with a new general manager in 2021.”

As for Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and his staff, they’ll be retained through the remainder of the season, while director of pro personnel Trent Baalke will become the interim general manager through the conclusion of the season, too.


Louis Riddick: ESPN analyst

We conducted an incredibly scientific poll on Twitter to gauge which candidates resonated with the Jaguars’ fan base the most and Riddick received the most “votes”, i.e, responses. As a result, he will be the first of many potential general managers we will take a look at.

Reddick, currently part of the Monday Night Football broadcast team for ESPN, was formerly an NFL defensive back turned scout for the NFL, working with the Washington Football Team (2001-2007) and the Philadelphia Eagles (2008-2013). During both landing spots, Riddick climbed the ladder from pro scout to director of pro personnel.

While he is now known as a TV personality more so than a scout, that is not Riddick’s perception around the NFL, well-respected within league circles for having an eye for talent.

The fit is curious with the Jaguars. While Riddick certainty isn’t simply a talking head on television, his background and history leaves some to be desired. During his time with the Eagles, Riddick was a part of the team that famously cultivated the “Dream Team,” in 2011 an assortment of players who ultimately failed to live up to expectations in Philly.

As a pro scout, Riddick dealt directly with the professional side of things, not in college scouting.

While that is not a benchmark for a general manager - team building is essential, and perhaps the reason why Caldwell failed during his tenure -, if a candidate isn’t proficient on the pro side, for multiple years, it does beg the question: how qualified is the candidate?

Riddick will certainly be given an opportunity at some point, but is he the right fit for the Jaguars? Riddick’s most-recent interview for general manager came in 2017 with the New York Giants.

Michael Bradway: Assistant Director of Player Personnel (Chiefs)

The Jaguars ought to be in search for a candidate who comes from a successful franchise. the Chiefs are perhaps the crème de la crème in this category as they’re looking to win the Super Bowl for the second year in a row.

While Bradway, currently in place as one of the team’s assistant director of player personnel alongside general manager Brett Veach, is not the “hallmark” name like Mike Borgonzi, the Chiefs director of football operations is, he does come with pedigree, history and experience.

He’s held that capacity since 2018 when he was hired away from the Eagles. During his time with the Eagles (2008-18), Bradway quickly moved up the ladder after joining Philidelphia in 2008 first as a college scouting assistant, regional scout and then finally the director of college scouting.

Bradway has been around scouting his entire life as his father, Terry Bradway, served as the general manager of the New York Jets from 2001 to 2006. Michael has spent the past few seasons under Veach and has had first-hand experience with the Chiefs general manager, spending time with him, along with head coach Andy Reid, during his time in Philadelphia.

The Chiefs have won, and have built one of the best rosters in the NFL over the past few seasons, including winning the most-recent Super Bowl.

With years of experience, and plenty dealing with the college scouting side of things, Michael Bradway would present an intriguing candidate as an up-and-comer. After helping build a successful Super Bowl-worthy roster with the Eagles, Bradway has seen the same success in Kansas City.

Bradway was also credited as being instrumental in bringing in tight end Dallas Goedert to the Eagles.

Ed Dodds: Assistant General Manager (Colts)

Dodds will be one of the hottest names on the market within a pool of incredibly qualified candidates, but he may also be the one with the most moxie of the bunch, absolutely.

After helping build one of the best defenses in the NFL in Seattle, the “Legion of Boom,” originally joining the Seahawks in 2007, Dodds has seen similar success with the Colts joining GM Chris Ballard in Indianapolis in 2017. Dodds is a respected scout within the NFL and reportedly declined an interview with the Cleveland Browns in January for its GM post.

This year, however, Dodds will be a lead candidate yet again, and perhaps he won’t pass up on the opportunity.

After spending 10 seasons with the Seahawks, most recently Seattle’s senior personnel executive responsible for evaluating both college and pro talent, Dodds was promoted to assistant GM with the Colts in 2018. Seattle posted six winning seasons, five NFC West titles and 10 playoff wins, along with two Super Bowl appearances (one win), during his tenure.

The Colts, under Ballard and Dodds, have built one of the best rosters in the NFL, and are currently in second place in the AFC South at 7-4.

Dodds would represent a win for Jacksonville in two areas: he is a successful scout and team builder, and he would no longer be employed by the Colts. That may be enough to seal the deal - at least from Jacksonville’s perspective. The Colts could, and probably would, block an opportunity for Jacksonville to poach the budding star.

Brandon Hunt: Pro Scouting Coordinator (Steelers)

Hunt will be incredibly tough to get from Pittsburgh as he is widely thought of as the heir apparent to current Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert.

Currently the team’s pro scouting coordinator, Hunt originally joined the Steelers’ personnel department as an intern from 2005-06, before spending two years in Houston as a pro scout, and re-joining the Steelers in 2009. Hunt has now spent 11 years in his current role, scouting opponents and evaluating the pro side of things.

Hunt has, however, worked along wide Colbert and the Pittsburgh scouting department on the collegiate end, playing an active role in acquiring linebacker Devin Bush, drafted 10th overall in 2019, and running back Benny Snell in the fourth round of the same draft.

The Steelers have been one of the most-successful NFL franchises in the NFL over the past two decades, posting just one losing record (6-10, 2003). Currently, Pittsburgh is the only undefeated team in the NFL, boasting one of the deepest rosters - offensively and defensively -, in the NFL.

Hunt, while he is primarily accustomed to the “pro” side of things, would come with plenty of experience and success in one of the best franchises in the NFL. While his scouting department would have to be deep, he should have no problem filling it.

Plus, he has pretty good taste when it comes to breakfast foods.

Joe Hortiz: Director of Player Personnel (Ravens)

If, by now, you’ve noticed a trend, you’re not wrong. The candidates on this list, for the most part, come from hugely successful franchise and Hortiz is no different.

Currently in his 22nd season with the Baltimore Ravens, second as the team’s director of player personnel, Hortiz comes with plenty of experience and is part of what is widely thought of as the best front office in the NFL. Hortiz worked his way from the bottom of the scouting department to essentially the top.

Prior to his recent promotion in 2019, Hortiz spent nine years as the team’s director of college scouting, responsible for all aspects of the college process, coordinating schedules, and cross-checking duties of the area and regional scouts.

Under both former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and current Ravens GM Eric DeCosta, Hortiz helped assemble one of the best rosters in the NFL, and was responsible for draft preparation and the evaluation and ranking process of “hundreds” of NFL draft-eligible prospects.

According to the Ravens’ PR, Hortiz scouted several of the Ravens’ top players, including Ronnie Stanley (2016), C.J. Mosley (2014), Brandon Williams, Rick Wagner and Kyle Juszcyk in 2013, among others. Hortiz also scouted former Ravens guard Ben Grubs in 2007.

The Jaguars would be wise to pluck from one of the best front offices in the NFL, especially landing someone such as Hortiz who comes with plenty of experience and success. The Ravens have consistently been one of the best teams in the NFL over the past decade and change, posting just two losing records since 2006 (5-11, 2007 and 5-11, 2015).

Mike Borgonzi - Director of Football Operations (Chiefs)

Borgonzi will no doubt be a household name among the teams that need a general manager following the conclusion of the 2020 season, and for good reason. He would be hired as a College Scouting Administrator for the Chiefs in 2009 and work his way up the ladder, eventually landing at the post he holds today as the team’s director of football operations.

Since he’s been witht he Chiefs, they’ve posted just three losing records, once in 2009 (4-12), 2011 (7-9) and 2012 (2-14). Learning under former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, and now current GM Brett Veach, Borgonzi has seen the franchise headed under plenty of success. Primarily a pro scout during his career, Borgonzi has still been heavily involved in the scouting department on collegiate side.

While most would point to quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the great get by the Chiefs during Borgonzi’s tenure, as they should, there have been plenty of “hits” other than the quarterback position, too.

The major hits in the first round include Eric Berry (2010), Dontari Poe (2012), Eric Fisher (2013), Marcus Peters (2015), Chris Jones (2016), Mecole Hardman (2019). The jury is certainly still out on 2020 first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but the early returns are solid enough.

Borgonzi will likely be the No. 1 “prospect” for many teams following the season, and the Jaguars would be smart to bring in someone who comes from such a successful franchise. With no doubt plenty of opportunity to present an efficient scouting department, the team-building aspect that Borgonzi brings should be enticing.

Daniel Jeremiah: NFL Network Analyst

Jeremiah is one of the hottest names, primarily due to his on-air TV personality as an analyst for NFL Network, primarily covering the NFL Draft. While he is known more for his on-air analysis of the draft, Jeremiah also spent time as a college scout with the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles before making the leap to TV.

The thought process with Jeremiah is similar to Riddick, although Riddick has far more experience in an NFL front office. He’s a TV personality with takes that attract attention, however, he should not be cast aside simply due to that. Over the past several years, Jeremiah has lead the charge as one of the best draftniks on TV, and his understanding and evaluation of college players is impressive.

After Mike Mayock left his past at NFL Network to take over as the Las Vegas Raiders general manager, Jeremiah took the lead role within the NFL Network, and the dots have been connecting ever since.

Much like Riddick, Jeremiah doesn’t necessarily make sense for the Jaguars at this time as the team needs someone with far more experience and pedigree at this time. While he can say all the right things, his ability to go through the rigor of performing the duties of a general manager in the NFL has yet to be determined.

Bonus:

Theo Epstein: Former President of Baseball Operations (Chicago Cubs)

Epstein is the type of out-of-the-box thinking that would make many laugh, but some applaud. Voted several times in our poll yesterday, it isn’t clear whether Epstein was a legitimate candidate in the minds of Jaguars fans.

Epstein had spent the past nine seasons as the Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations, and oversaw the first Cubs World Series victory since 1908. That’s something. There’s also some precedent here, current Cleveland Browns Chief Strategy Officer, Paul DePodesta spent 20 seasons in Major League Baseball prior to making the jump to the NFL.

Though, Epstein wouldn’t exactly be the worst idea, bringing analytics to the forefront of the franchise in Jacksonville, perhaps to the joy of Tony Khan, he would most likely want to enjoy himself in some sort of MLB office.

It would be a shock if the Jaguars even have Epstein on its list, but good on Jaguars fans for thinking out of the box.