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NFL coaching candidates: Best head coach, coordinator and GM candidates in 2023

The best NFL coaching candidates in 2023 are a sign of the direction the league is headed. While there are plenty of brilliant minds on the offensive side of the ball available, the 2022 NFL season also put the spotlight on brilliant defensive coordinators and outstanding leaders.

While the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts became the first NFL teams looking for a new coach, we’ve now seen the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos join them.

It’s going to be another active coaching carousel and this year’s list of the top NFL coaching candidates offers a variety of options for front offices and owners.

Related: NFL coaches fired

As we did with our candidates list in 2022, we’re also focusing on other vacancies. There are multiple openings for general managers across the league and there is a deep pool of NFL GM candidates to explore. Likewise, coaches looking to fill out their staff for the 2023 season have a strong array of NFL coordinator candidates to choose from.

Let’s dive into the best head coach, general manager and coaching candidates in 2023.

NFL coaching candidates

DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NFL coaching candidates are getting younger and more recognizable each year. DeMeco Ryans, age 38, became a defensive quality control coach just two years after retiring from the NFL. The two-time Pro Bowl selection quickly climbed the coaching ladder, receiving a promotion to inside linebackers coach (2018-’20) and then replacing Robert Saleh as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator. Needless to say, he is doing a phenomenal job with this group.

Opp. PPGOpp. YPGPressure RateYards per PlayDVOA Rank
202121.5 (10th)310 (3rd)24.1% (20th)5.1 (4th)-7.4% (7th)
202215.3 (1st)300.6 (1st)22.5% (8th)5.0 (4th)-14.1% (1st)
2022 defensive stats through Week 13 via Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference

Ryans’ defensive play-calling played an instrumental role in San Francisco’s playoff run last season. He already brings the defensive mind and ability to make adjustments that teams need to prioritize. Just as importantly, his track record as a player and coordinator demonstrates his leadership and communication, which are crucial to fulfilling the ‘CEO’ role for a head coach. Ryans is among our favorite NFL coaching candidates and it would be a surprise if he isn’t hired.

Shane Steichen, Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator

NFL: New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Sirianni rightfully gets a lot of credit for the Philadelphia Eagles’ success. After all, the head coach has far exceeded expectations and proven that he was the perfect target for the role. However, it’s important to remember that Shane Steichen has a massive role in the offense.

Sirianni described this summer how involved Steichen is with everything Philadelphia does offensively. He started calling plays late in the 2021 season, playing a pivotal role in the Eagles’ offense taking off. It’s a change that carried over into 2022 with Philly boasting one of the top offenses all season.

Interest in Steichen will go beyond his work in Philadelphia. He served as the Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive coordinator in 2020, working alongside Justin Herbert in a record-setting rookie season. Combine his work with Herbert and Jalen Hurts, that’s a future NFL head coach.

Ejiro Evero, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Many of the decisions made by Nathaniel Hackett in 2022 warranted a lot of scrutinies. However, the move to hire Ejiro Evero as the defensive coordinator worked out perfectly. Taken from the Sean McVay coaching tree, Evero’s work with the Denver Broncos defense this season is outstanding.

A year after the Broncos ranked 20th in Total DVOA (3%) with Vic Fangio at the helm, Denver finished 10th (-5.2%) this season. Opponents averaged just 5 yards per play with a 34.1% third-down conversion rate (2nd), despite Denver’s defense spending so much time on the field because of its lackluster offense.

There are certainly some risks in hiring a head coach coming off his first season as a defensive coordinator, with Brandon Staley serving as an example. However, Evero’s success and his time spent learning from Fangio, Mike McCarthy and McVay should provide him with more stamps of endorsements than some of the other top NFL coaching candidates.

Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots inside linebacker coach

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at New England Patriots
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Selected with the 10 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Jerod Mayo became a central figure in the Patriots’ defense and someone Belichick trusted like few others. It’s why a few years after he played his last snap in 2015, Mayo was on Belichick’s coaching staff working with the linebackers. By 2021, he was receiving head-coaching buzz and that league-wide interest has ramped up since.

 NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported last year that Mayo made a strong impression on the Eagles’ brass during his head-coaching interview in 2021. He turned that into meetings with the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders in 2022.

Mayo has spent years with some of the brightest minds in football and he still brings the work ethic, leadership and mind for the game that made him an All-Pro linebacker. Effectively serving as New England’s co-defensive coordinator, he is now overseeing one of the best units in football. He offers all the qualities the best NFL coaching candidates offer and he’ll only be 37 next year.

NFL coaching candidates by team

Here are a list of potential coaching candidates for each team with a head-coaching vacancy and for those whose head coach might be fired or retire in 2023.

Ken Dorsey, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator

NFL coaching candidates 2023
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams seeking a head coach love finding someone who can build a strong rapport with the quarterback. It’s undeniably one of the most important relationships in professional sports and it’s crucial to find a balance between challenging the face of the franchise and supporting them.

Ken Dorsey has played an influential role in the development of quarterback Josh Allen. The perennial NFL MVP candidate has publicly lauded his play-caller and quarterbacks coach on multiple occasions and the Bills’ locker room gravitates toward their offensive coordinator because of his attitude. Dorsey also proved to be an instrumental voice during Cam Newton’s best years.

“(Dorsey) is an extremely hard and efficient worker. He made my life as easy as possible. Not only is he a hard worker, but he has a vibrant killer instinct. He’s a known proven winner over the years.”

Cam Newton on former quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey (H/T Bills Wire)

As for the Bills’ offensive production, it finished the regular season ranked second in Football Outsiders’ Offense Weighted DVOA and is the third-best passing offense by DVOA. Buffalo averaged 397.6 total yards (2nd) and 28.4 points (2nd) in 18 games during the regular season with 367 (5th) first downs and a league-high 50.3% third-down conversion rate.

NFL teams waited far too long to hire Brian Daboll as a head coach. While Dorsey might not be the next Daboll, owners and general managers will surely want to take a shot on him very soon. If he isn’t hired in 2023, Dorsey will be one of the top NFL coaching candidates in 2024.

Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator

NFL coaching candidates
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Bieniemy is one of our top NFL coaching candidates every year. Unsurprisingly, there’s a new reason provided during every coaching carousel as to why he wasn’t fired. Among them, teams were concerned about off-field issues that happened in 1991 and 2001. He is also held under scrutiny because he was on Colorado’s coaching staff when multiple players faced rape allegations.

Strangely, Urban Meyer wasn’t held to the same standard for coaching at a program with massive cultural problems and a lack of discipline. Legal issues more than a decade ago also didn’t prevent Mike Vrabel from landing a job nor did sexual assault charges in 1996 mean Matt Patricia couldn’t become a bead coach.

We’ve also seen reports that teams have concerns because Bieniemy isn’t the Chiefs’ primary play-caller. Coincidentally, that didn’t seem to keep Nick Sirianni, Dan Campbell, Zac Taylor or Nathaniel Hackett from landing jobs.

Bieniemy is an integral part of the Chiefs’ offense with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes raving about his work ethic, football mind and his impact on the team. There are no legitimate excuses as to why Bieniemy shouldn’t be a head coach. There does finally seem to be some positive buzz towards Bieniemy becoming an NFL head coach, so perhaps 2023 will finally be the year.

Jonathan Gannon, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon certainly has a lot of talent to work with. As we’ve seen countless times over the years, some NFL coaches fail to take advantage of situations like this. Ganoon is seizing on his opportunity.

The 39-year-old served as the Colts’ defensive backs coach before following Sirianni to Philadelphia, immediately becoming the defensive coordinator. While he went through some growing pains as a first-year defensive play-caller, he is doing excellent work in 2022.

  • Philadelphia Eagles defensive stats (2022): -10.7% Total DVOA (5th), 20.5 PPG allowed (10th), 301.9 total ypg allowed (2nd), 54% red-zone conversion rate (12th), 4.8 yards per play

Gannon interviewed with Denver in 2021, viewed as a rising NFL coaching candidate at the time. With the defensive improvements Philadelphia has made tied to Gannon’s glowing reputation around the league and his defensive mind, he’ll be an NFL head coach very soon. As for how he views the game, the Eagles captured it perfectly in a sit-down interview with him.

After finishing as a finalist with the Houston Texans in 2022, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Gannon or DeMeco Ryans takes over for Houston in 2023. A young defensive-minded coach with great leadership and the ability to utilize his players skills to maximize their opportunities in a versatile scheme, that would be a great addition for anyone.

Sean Payton, former New Orleans Saints head coach

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Press Conference
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton is No. 1 on the big board of NFL coaching candidates in 2023, but there is an elephant in the room. Unlike every other option available, whatever team wants to pull the future Hall of Famer out of television must pay a staggering price.

We’ll start with Payton’s next contract. Coaching salaries are skyrocketing, following in lockstep with increasing NFL revenue that results in higher player salaries. As a result, Payton can demand one of the largest contracts ever for an NFL head coach – at least $20 million per season – and he’ll likely get it because of how coveted he is.

There’s another element that separates Payton from the other top NFL coaching candidates. He is still under contract with New Orleans, a franchise in desperate need of draft picks to rebuild its roster. For the Saints to even seriously entertain allowing another team to hire Payton, it will likely cost a first-round pick. Paying $20-plus million per season and sacrificing a first-round pick is a hefty price, but there will likely be multiple clubs willing to pay it.

Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Quinn will be an NFL head coach in 2023. The 52-year-old is extremely well-liked by players, is respected by executives and coaches on his staff seems to enjoy working for him. Even if you removed what he is doing right now in Dallas from the evaluation, he’d be among the best NFL coaching candidates in 2023.

  • Dan Quinn coaching record: 43-42, 3-2 in NFL playoffs
Dallas Cowboys defense by seasonsPPG AllowedDefensive DVOAYards per Play Allowed
202029.6 (28th)23rd (6%)5.9 (23rd)
202121.1 (7th)2nd (-15.2%)5.5 (21st)
202220.1 (5th)2nd (-13,3%)5.1 (7th)
Statistics via Pro Football Reference and Football Outsiders

What makes it a near certainty that he’ll be hired is how close he came in 2021. A finalist for the Broncos’ position that went to Hackett, Quinn crushed interviews. After just one season as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in 2021, teams saw more than enough to believe he deserved a second chance as a head coach. Now, the Cowboys’ defense is even better and the differences between before he took over vs now are staggering.

Yes, everyone knows what happened with the Atlanta Falcons. The team blew its chance at a Super Bowl and never quite recovered. In Quinn’s final years, he was overseeing a roster that was falling apart and everyone simply needed a rest. Give him the right offensive coordinator and Quinn will do well overseeing a defense and serving as the CEO on the sideline.

Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator

NFL coaching candidates 2023
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Almost every team with an NFL coaching vacancy this past offseason interviewed Kellen Moore. The Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and each of them came away impressed by Moore’s football IQ and ingenuity (Tom Pelissero). Now in his third year as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, Moore has more of the experience he lacked previously.

A cursory look at the Cowboys’ statistics offensively won’t generate intense excitement. However, the 355.9 total ypg and 27.8 ppg averages are weighed down from when Cooper Rush started at quarterback. Keep in mind, though, Moore’s play-calling in that stretch still resulted in four wins, 128.4 rushing yards per game, a 35% third-down conversion rate and the team scored 20-plus points in each of those games.

With Prescott back under center, the Cowboys lead the NFL in Estimated Offensive Points per Game (39.0) and rank second in total ypg (424.3) in the last three weeks. On the year, Dallas ranks seventh in third-down conversion rate (44.2%) with the third-highest touchdown rate in the red zone (73%). Moore will need an experienced coaching staff around him, but he has all the making of an NFL head coach.

Shane Bowen, Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator

Syndication: The Tennessean
George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

For NFL teams seeking a young defensive-minded coach, Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator Shane Bowen has accelerated the coaching ladder quickly. He started as a student assistant at Georgia Tech and then served as a grad assistant (2010-’11), learning under Paul Johnson.

After one season as a grad assistant on Urban Meyer’s staff at Ohio State, Bowen spent the next three years at Kennesaw State before making the jump to the NFL in 2016 with the Houston Texans (2016-’17) before becoming the Titans’ outside linebackers coach.

In his first season as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator (2021), the Titans had the fifth-lowest blitz rate (21.3%) in the NFL, but finished ninth in sacks (43) and pressures (169). Tennessee finished the 2021 season ranked eighth in Football Outsiders’ Weighted DVOA. A year later, Bowen’s unit is top-12 in Weighted DVOA despite losing Harold Landry before Week 1.

Leslie Frazier, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Leslie Frazier went through the interview cycle in 2021, meeting twice with the New York Giants and once with the Miami Dolphins. Ultimately, the 63-year-old remained in Buffalo as its assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.

Renowned for his defensive acumen, experience and leadership, Frazier’s history of coaching defenses speaks for itself. Buffalo rated No. 3 in Weighted DVOA in 2021 and is No. 5 this season. The Bills also ranked third in nY/A in 2018 and 2019.

Frazier has experienced the recent trend of NFL teams and coaching search firms giving preference to those who work with quarterbacks.

” I think it’s very narrow-minded to only see the head coach as an offensive guy because you have a young quarterback. You need the right leader in that role because you’ve got to be able to handle multiple responsibilities, not just call offensive plays. I just think that’s a misguided approach, but I’m not the guy doing the hiring.”

Leslie Frazier on teams prioritizing NFL coaching candidates on the offenside side (H/T Pro Football Talk)

However, that could see a shift in 2023. Scoring is down significantly this year (23.0 to 21.9 PPG), marking the first time since 2017 that the NFL scoring average dipped below 22. Frazier, who has coached in the NFL since 1999, has the relationships around the league to build an offensive coaching staff that will complement what he brings.

Brian Callahan, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator

Syndication: The Enquirer
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Dan Pompei of The Athletic went in-depth on Brian Callahan’s rise up the coaching ranks and why so many of the quarterbacks he has worked alongside love being coached by him. The best minds in football shape their schemes around what the most important player in their offense does best. It’s not just about reducing the exposure to a quarterback’s weaknesses, but also highlighting their strengths and amplifying them.

Callahan does another thing very well, as quarterback Matthew Stafford described. Systems and head coaches can only continue to have success if they adapt and are ever-learning. It’s something Callahan prides himself on and both Stafford and Joe Burrow benefit from it.

“The more exposure you can get in this league to players and systems that are successful, the better you are if you are willing to learn. He’s always finding ways to be a better coach by learning from players as well as coaches.”

Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford on Brian Callahan

While Callahan might not be one of the most well-known NFL coaching candidates in 2023, his popularity is rising. The 38-year-old is one of the most important coaches in the entire AFC North. Whether it’s this offseason or following another run in 2023, Callahan has earned a chance to become a head coach.

Shane Waldron, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Training Camp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Before hiring Zac Taylor, the Cincinnati Bengals interviewed Shane Waldron in 2018. While he didn’t meet with the team a second time, inexperience played a part. He just finished his fourth season in the NFL, his first as a passing game coordinator. Now, Waldron has the experience to make him one of the top NFL coaching candidates this offseason.

Waldron has two mentors that hiring teams will gravitate toward on his resume. He started his career as an operations intern in the New England Patriots front office (2002-’03), learning about scouting and player development from Bill Belichick. After one season as an operations assistant, Waldron spent three years as a grad assistant at Notre Dame before joining Belichick’s coaching staff as an offensive quality control coach (2008) and then tight ends coach (2009).

After bouncing at different college programs, he joined the Washington Commanders staff in 2016 as an offensive quality control coach and then followed McVay to Los Angeles. Hired as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator in 2021, Waldron has played an instrumental role in designing one of the NFL’s best offenses and helped spark a career resurgence for Geno Smith.

Aaron Glenn, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn emerged as one of the first-time NFL coaching candidates in 2022, interviewing with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints. He seemed like an ideal target for New Orleans, considering he coached for Sean Payton from 2016-’20 as defensive backs coach. Ultimately, Glenn remained in Detroit.

Things looked bleak for him early this season, working with a young team that had multiple rookie starters and additional second- or third-year players. Over time, we’ve seen this unit emerge as one of the better defenses in the second half.

PPGTotal YPGYards per PlayNY/A
Week 1-832.1421.36.57.7
Week 9-1420.3382.25.96.5
QB Rating AllowedTD % / INT %3rd Down Conv.Sacks
Week 1-8108.55.2 % / .08%50.6%11 / 1.6 per
Week 9-14844% / 3.1%45.2%15 / 2.5 per

Glenn will have ringing endorsements from both Payton and Dan Campbell, significant additions to his resume. Another strong quality he brings to the table is his communication, with veteran Michael Brockers sharing in 2021 that Glenn is the best communicator he’s ever been around (Pride of Detroit). After going through the head-coaching interview process multiple times now, Glenn is well-positioned to become a head coach in the coming years.

Brian Flores, former Miami Dolphins head coach

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

While Brian Flores still holds an active lawsuit against the National Football League, he still received head-coaching interviews in 2022. A year removed from the situation, Flores will again be among the NFL coaching candidates receiving consideration.

Taking over a team at the start of a rebuild in 2019, Flores helped a Miami Dolphins team most expected to win only two games to finish with a 5-11 record. In the next two seasons, despite having one of the worst offenses in the AFC, Miami posted a 19-14 record and found itself in the playoff hunt both years. An outstanding defensive mind, Flores can demonstrate in interviews that he learned from some of his mistakes in Miami (poor communication, organizational conflict) with a clear plan for who will run his offense. He’s among the coaches worthy of a second chance.

Lou Anarumo, Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator

Syndication: The Enquirer
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

No one would mistake the Cincinnati Bengals for having one of the most talented defenses in the NFL. In spite of that and some injuries along the way, Lou Anarumo is operating an excellent unit. Entering Week 15, Cincinnati allowed the fifth-lowest average QB rating (80.4) and boasted the 10th-highest pressure rate (23.1%). The Bengals’ defense is also great situationally, holding the opposition to a 51.2% red-zone touchdown rate (6th in NFL)

Anarumo has also been doing this for years and with defensive-minded coaches gaining more recognition, he is emerging as one of the NFL coaching candidates who is likeliest to receive multiple interviews.

David Shaw, former Stanford Cardinal head coach

NCAA Football: Stanford at Utah
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unknown if David Shaw would take an NFL head-coaching job so soon after stepping down from Stanford. However, the program’s woes on the football field in recent years have a lot more to do with recruiting disadvantages than Shaw’s coaching. During his best years at Stanford, Shaw was one of the top NFL coaching candidates but he remained loyal to the program.

He is an outstanding leader who brings discipline but is well-liked by everyone in the building. He isn’t the Xs and Os mastermind or a young wunderkind, but Shaw could bring stability to an NFL team in need of it and his connections around the league would help him build a strong staff.

2023 NFL head coach candidates

  • Chris Horton, Baltimore Ravens special teams coordinator
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants offensive coordinator
  • Richard Hightower, Chicago Bears special teams coordinator
  • Bubba Ventrone, Indianapolis Colts special teams coordinator
  • Josh McCown, former NFL quarterback
  • Steve Wilks, Carolina Panthers interim coach
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator
  • Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator

NFL coordinator candidates 2023

While the primary focus of the 2023 NFL coaching carousel is on head coaches, this is also an active time for coordinators. Whether it’s a head coach looking to fill out his staff or a team looking to hire a new defensive coordinator or offensive coordinator. There are plenty of intriguing names to know.

These are the names to know right now. We’ll provide profiles of each up the candidates and add additional coordinator prospects in the weeks ahead.

Offensive Coordinators

  • Brian Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach
  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach
  • Ben Bloom, Cleveland Browns run game coordinator
  • Brian Hartline, Ohio State offensive coordinator
  • Alex Golesh, Tennessee offensive coordinator
  • Stump Mitchell, Cleveland Browns run game coordinator
  • Jerrod Johnson, Minnesota Vikings assistant quarterbacks coach
  • Marcus Brady, former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator
  • Pep Hamilton, Houston Texans offensive coordinator
  • Matt Weiss, Michigan Wolverines co-offensive coordinator
  • Kliff Kingsbury, former Arizona Cardinals head coach
  • Thomas Brown Jr., Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach
  • Bobby Slowik, San Francisco 49ers offensive passing game coordinator

Defensive Coordinators

  • Sean Desai, Seattle Seahawks assistant head coach
  • Ryan Crow, Tennessee Titans outside linebackers coach
  • Demarcus Covington, New England Patriots defensive line coach
  • Christian Parker, Denver Broncos defensive backs coach
  • Marquand Manuel, New York Jets defensive backs coach
  • Patrick Graham, Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator
  • Bobby Babich, Buffalo Bills linebackers coach
  • Aden Durde, Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach
  • Vic Fangio, former NFL defensive coordinator and head coach
  • Eric Henderson, Los Angeles Rams defensive line coach/run game coordinator
  • Brian Flores, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive assistant
  • Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots inside linebackers coach

NFL GM candidates 2023: Future NFL general managers

The Tennessee Titans fired Jon Robinson in December, making him the first NFL general manager fired in 2022. However, clubs typically don’t fire a GM during the season. Those decisions will likely come on Black Monday, when both head coaches and general managers are fired. For now, we’ll provide a list of NFL GM candidates in 2023 with profiles coming early this offseason.

Jeff Ireland, New Orleans Saints assistant general manager

Syndication: Palm Beach Post

NFL teams interested in hiring Jeff Ireland will first evaluate his past. During his tenure as the Miami Dolphins general manager, Ireland asked Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview if his mother was a prostitute. In addition, Ireland once suggested in 2013 that offensive lineman Jonathan Martin should punch teammate Richie Incognito to stop his bullying. All of it played a role in his departure from Miami,

Since then, he’s overseen the new Orleans Saints scouting department. Since joining the front office and running college scouting, the Saints’ draft history includes multi-year starters (Sheldon Rankins, Erik McCoy, C.J. Gardner Johnson, Vonn Bell and David Onyemata)_, Pro Bowl selections (Marshon Lattimore, Trey Hendrickson, Marcus Williams) and All-Pro talents (Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk, Michael Thomas). Identifying talent is what he does best and it’s why Ireland will be one of the top NFL GM candidates in 2023.

Dan Morgan, Carolina Panthers assistant general manager

Grant Halverson-USA TODAY Sports

Selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 11th pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, former linebacker Dan Morgan will soon be drafting his own first-round picks. After ending his playing career following the 2009 season, Morgan joined the Seattle Seahawks as an intern in 2010.

Morgan’s ascension up the front office ladder is absurd. He became the Seahawks’ assistant director of player personnel (2011-’14) and was then elevated to director of pro personnel (2015-’17). By 2018, he joined the Buffalo Bills front office in the same role before finally returning to Carolina as assistant general manager in 2021. Just two decades after he was a top draft prospect, Morgan is now one of the best NFL GM candidates available in 2023.

Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals vice president of pro scouting

Syndication: Phoenix
Patrick Breen/The Republic

Just a few years after earning five Pro Bowl trips and three All-Pro selections with the Arizona Cardinals, Adrian Wilson joined the front office. The former safety started as a regional scout in 2015, learning the ropes of scouting through the 2018 season. Arizona promoted him to director of pro scouting (2019-’20) before he became vice president in 2021.

A member of the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor, there is a strong possibility that Wilson replaces Steve Keim as general manager. If not, he is one of the rising NFL GM candidates. One thing to keep in mind, Wilson nearly joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as general manager to partner with Byron Leftwich. If Wilson lands his dream job anywhere, Leftwich is a name to monitor to be his head coach.

Louis Riddick, ESPN NFL analyst and former team executive

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There are a variety of skills that help make a successful NFL general manager. While knowing how to interact and handle with the media might not seem like one of the most important abilities, it helps shape a team’s image and how fans feel about the club.

With years of experience working for ESPN, Louis Riddick is extremely comfortable answering questions about draft prospects, player backgrounds and explaining the finer points of football to every type of audience. It’s made him an integral part of ESPN’s NFL coverage and would help if he became a general manager.

All of that is without touting his work as an NFL executive. After beginning his career in the front office as a pro scout (2001-’04), Riddick served as director of pro personnel for Washington 2005-’07) and the Philadephia Eagles (2010-’13). He’s been interviewed by multiple teams as a candidate for general manager, faring well in those meetings. With NFL owners starting to look more toward faces they recognize from the media side, Riddick at least has a shot at his dream job.

NFL general manager candidates

  • Joe Hortiz, Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel
  • JoJo Wooden, Los Angeles Chargers director of player personnel
  • Ed Dodds, Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager
  • Jacqueline Davidson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers senior director of football research
  • Adam Peters, San Francisco 49ers general manager
  • Mike Borgonzi, Kansas City Chiefs assistant general manager
  • Will McClay, Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel
  • Morocco Brown, Indianapolis Colts college scouting director
  • Ian Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles director of player personnel
  • Jon Robinson, former Tennessee Titans general manager
  • Thomas Dimitroff, former Atlanta Falcons general manager
  • Chad Brinker, Green Bay Packers personnel & administrative executive
  • Glenn Cook, Cleveland Browns assistant general manager
  • Ryan Cowden, Tennessee Titans interim general manager

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