Mike Florio over at Pro Football Talk has listed what he reports to be the Seahawks list of ten GM candidates. There aren't too many surprises on the list, really, but plenty of unfamiliar names to most of us (including me). I suppose one mildly surprising piece is that there are no big names on the list. This isn't a huge shock except that many people expected the Hawks to gun for the biggest name out there, as we did in 1999. This list is from the search firm, which does not mean it will be the final list of candidates that the Seahawks look for, merely the list of their recommended candidates. Still, with Shanahan sounding like he's headed to Washington, Cowher probably winding up in Chicago or Carolina, Gruden announcing he won't be coaching next year, and Holmgren headed to the Dawg Pound, there just weren't too many other big names out there [It's also important to keep in mind that these ten names were just from the list generated by the search firm contracted by the Seahawks. Aside from Ruston Webster, we haven't yet heard about any GM candidates that the Seahawks' front. office may have identified on its own. -Ed.]. The list and analysis is below the fold.
Ruston Webster - Seattle Seahawks - Interim General Manager
Webster is already a known quantity, but he is very unlikely to continue in his current role (I think). Sticking with Webster would be tantamount to rolling with the punches, something this team desperately needs to avoid after two awful, awful seasons.
Steve Keim - Arizona Cardinals - Director of Player Personnel
Steve Keim is looking like the hot young commodity of the offseason. Keim is credited with many of the good picks in Arizona over the last few years, and not credited with any of the mistakes (Adrian Peterson). The truth is likely somewhere in between, but no one can question his scouting ability after grabbing some very high value picks -- Beanie Wells, Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie, a solid and healthy offensive line, etc -- in recent years. Further, Keim comes from a place with a decent football culture and a similar bargaining strategy as the Seahawks. If Darnell Dockett does demand a trade due to a lack of adequate pay, don't be surprised to see Steve Keim on the other side of that trade. How's that for a dirtbag? [For further reading, here's a nice artticle by John Morgan wherein he examines Keirn's track record as both a scout and personnel director. -Ed.]
Jimmy Raye - San Diego Chargers - Director of Player Personnel
Jimmy Raye has done a good job in San Diego, and has specifically gotten some good value for defunct players (didn't he get a second round pick for Chris Chambers?). No one can deny that the Chargers have been one of the NFL's elite teams over the last few years, and all they are missing is a Super Bowl ring. Raye has played a major role in assembling that team, and has shown he is willing to make tough decisions to keep a team upward trending (letting Drew Brees leave and trusting in Phil Rivers, not signing LT to a huge contract when he's too old to play it out).
Eric DeCosta - Baltimore Ravens - Director of Player Personnel
Eric DeCosta is in a similar situation as Steve Keim. Young, up and coming guy with minimal track record but a lot of "GM Upside." He has been Ozzie Newsome's right hand man in Baltimore, and is credited with putting together their very good offensive line, including the steal of the draft last year: Michael Oher in the 20s. Granted, picking Oher was a no-brainer to anyone who can actually scout rather than merely reading the Kipers and McShays of the world, but it's still notable. Oher has blown every other rookie tackle out of the water, and really should be the rookie of the year -- Harvin will win the award, mind you, but doesn't deserve it over Oher. DeCosta and Keim are at the top of my list.
Trent Baalke - San Francisco 49ers - Director of Player Personnal
We need a franchise quarterback. Would you trust a 49er executive to deliver that right now?
Jason Licht - New England Patriots - Director of Pro Personnel
Floyd Reese - New England Patriots - Senior Football Advisor
I'll lump Licht and Reese together for two reasons: first, I don't know much about them, and second, I wouldn't be shocked to see them come in as a package deal (more like "package steal!!!"). I would love to see the Patriots' draft strategy employed in Seattle. Persistent planning for the future while taking value picks when you can't trade is how the Pats have built their dynasty. The question would be whether they would ever draft a QB early. I don't know enough about them to say for sure, but I do know we don't have three years to let a 6th rounder develop (sorry, Mr. Teel).
Tom Heckert - Philadelphia Eagles - General Manager (Andy Reid makes all final decisions)
Heckert is a key cog in the personnel identification in Philadelphia -- amongst the best teams this decade -- but he lacks the final say. Don't be surprised at all to see him jump ship, and keep in mind that he has been scouting players who fit a West Coast Offense scheme for years and has an eye for explosive speed recievers (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin). He also was part of a team that brought in Leonard Weaver.
John Schneider - Green Bay Packers - Director of Football Operations
I know almost nothing about John Schneider, but the Packers have had luck finding talent and giving them time to develop, which we may have some level of luxury in doing. Ryan Grant is a good example, but obviously Aaron Rodgers is the key name. The Packers are also willing to take "chances" on character guys that Ruskell never would such as BJ Raji. The team values linebackers quite a bit, and recently switched successfully to a 3-4. If that's how the Hawks want to go, it looks like Schneider can make the switch happen in one year.
Randy Mueller - No Associated Team - Former GM
Mueller feels like a stop-gap fix. He has routinely gotten value out of over-valued "oops" picks (including trading Rick Mirer for a first round pick that turned into Walter Jones). In general though, once he successfully unloads talent, he doesn't do much good. It's unlikely for him to return to Seattle, I would think, but I know he would be willing to come back.