As best he can, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com lists the 10 candidates for the vacant Seattle Seahawks general manager position:
Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals Director of Player Personnel
Jimmy Raye, San Diego Chargers Director of Player Personnel
Randy Muller, Chargers consultant (and former Seahawks general manager)
Tom Heckert, Philadelphia Eagles General Manager
Eric DeCosta, Baltimore Ravens Director of Player Personnel
John Schneider, Green Bay Packers Director of Football Operations
Floyd Reese, New England Patriots Senior Football Adviser
Jason Licht, New England Patriots Pro Personnel Director
Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers Director of Player Personnel
Interim Seahawks general manager Ruston Webster is also a candidate.
Two observations about this list:
1. Raye, whose father coordinates the 49ers offense, would be the only African-American candidate. The NFL's "Rooney Rule" requires the Seahawks to interview at least one minority candidate for senior-level football operations positions, including general manager.
2. Except for Baalke, and the internal candidates, all the executives on the list currently work for likely playoff teams, meaning the Seahawks' search for a new leader could extend into February.
With Mike Holmgren very public rejection of the Seahawks' offer to be the next president/general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, some light has been shed on what the substance and structure of this position will be.
Whoever the new general manager is, he will report to someone below the level of ownership, most likely Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke.
Aside from Holmgren, no candidate on this list will have an issue with this "layer", not even a long-time NFL executive like Floyd Reese. In other words, this is standard operating procedure in the NFL, and the few exceptions are granted only to those whose egos are as big as the ginormous rings they have on their fingers.
The new GM likely will not have the authority to replace head coach Jim Mora until after the 2010 season.
Given Holmgren's background as a coach, and his stated belief that head coaches deserve two years, Mora was unlikely to be replaced by Holmgren in 2010, even without Mora's endorsement of Holmgren to be the next president/general manager. Now, Holmgren probably would have suggested some changes be made to the coaching staff (which Mora might want to consider anyway to better ensure that he has a third season as head coach), but Mora himself was very safe in 2010 had Holmgren accepted the position.
Not changing the head coach until after 2010 may not be a deal-breaker with all of the candidates, but any of the GM candidates listed above, minus the internal candidates, will want to bring in their own head coach eventually, if not sooner. That said, no one at Vulcan or the VMAC should want a situation where the new general manager is looking at players with his head coach in mind, while the current coach is slogging through another losing season with two kickers on the 53-man roster and a pink slip awaiting him in January.
It's been for this reason that I've openly railed against the Seahawks' stated "We're not going to be joining them, they're going to join us" approach towards finding their new "leader", which has already resulted in their top choice accepting a job in Cleveland.
As many face-palms as his post-game pressers, and day-after pressers, have caused this season, I do believe Jim Mora deserves another year, provided he's willing to follow Leiweke's lead and bid adieu to a good, long-time friend of his on the current coaching staff.
However, the option to replace Mora after this season is not one that should be completely off the table.
For example, let's say that they've identified Steve Keim as the best candidate for the general manager position, but he wants to bring current Cardinals assistant head coach Russ Grimm along with him and replace Mora immediately.
The Seahawks shouldn't be so loyal to Mora that they pass on Keim and move on to the next name down on the list, because whoever the next general manager is, he is going to want to bring in his own people, and eventually it will happen.
That's just how this works, so it's a matter of how ugly do you need it to get, and how deeply into the Blue Pride season-ticket waiting list you want to dig before doing so.
When Tim Ruskell was hired, in addition to bringing in players he was familiar with from Tampa Bay and Atlanta, he brought executives like John Idzik and Ruston Webster along, too. He eventually hired a head coach he had a lengthy relationship with, something he probably would've done sooner, if Seattle weren't winning division titles under Holmgren.
Pick any name on that list, and you'll have chosen an executive who already has a short-list of coaches and executives in mind. He'll have a handful of names who he'll want to surround himself with immediately to effectively do the job he's being hired to do.
And since this is too important of a decision to waste 2010 on, Leiweke and Co. can't be so rigid in their belief that they've cracked some mystical code for success in this league, that they can afford to miss out on hiring the next Bill Polian, Scott Pioli, or Ozzie Newsome.
That the Seahawks are likely to find themselves at 9-23 over a two-year stretch when the players are cleaning out their lockers on January 4, and that the top candidates on the list are coming from organizations that aren't just in the playoffs this year, but are perennial playoff organizations (yes, that includes Arizona now), should be enough for the Seahawks to give the new general manager the actual power necessary to turn this ship around immediately.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.
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