A few days ago, the Indianapolis Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson. A search got underway for his replacement, and the first name we heard in connection to the job was Colts’ VP of football operations Jimmy Raye III. We looked at who he is a bit more in-depth to give fans a better idea, and since then several other potential candidates have emerged.
Thus far, we’ve heard of six other names (besides Raye) the Colts want to interview for their GM opening. We don’t know for sure that all four will actually interview with the team, but we know that they’re on Jim Irsay’s list. So let’s take a look at who they are and what they’ve done to give fans a better feel for them:
Jimmy Raye III
Jimmy Raye III is the Colts’ vice president of football operations, a role he’s held for the last four years while serving as the right hand man to Ryan Grigson. The son of an NFL coach, Raye spent one year as a quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs before transitioning to scouting. He was hired as a scout by the San Diego Chargers in 1996 and served in that role for four years before being promoted to director of college scouting in 2000. He spent eight years in that role before taking the role of director of player personnel in 2008. He stayed there for five years until joining the Colts in 2013. He’s currently filling the role as the Colts’ interim GM while the search for Grigson’s replacement continues, as Raye is heading up the Colts’ Senior Bowl efforts alongside Chuck Pagano.
Colts fans will be apprehensive about Raye because of his connections to Grigson, but Raye has an impressive resume and is a well-respected guy both within the Colts organization and around the NFL. He helped the Colts find guys like Zach Kerr and Jonotthan Harrison as undrafted free agents, along with Denzelle Good as a seventh round pick out of Mars Hill. During his time with the Chargers, they had one of the best teams in the NFL in the mid-2000s and Raye helped bring in LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees through the draft, Antonio Gates as an undrafted free agent, and Philip Rivers in a trade.
Trent Kirchner is the co-director of player personnel with the Seattle Seahawks, sharing that title with Scott Fitterer (also a candidate for the Colts’ GM position). Seahawks.com last year ran a terrific piece with video interviews of the personnel guys, including Kirchner, that’s worth checking out. Kirchner went to school at St. John’s from 1996-2000, and when he was a senior he drove to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine and met John Schnieder, who was at the time with the Kansas City Chiefs. After graduating, Kirchner was hired by Schneider (then with the Seahawks) as a PR guy, which he did from 9-5 while doing scouting on the side before and after work. When Schneider left for the Redskins a year later he brought Kirchner with him, and then Schneider spent eight years working for the Packers. Kirchner was with the Panthers during those eight years before he re-united with Schneider in Seattle in 2010 when Schneider became the GM.
Kirchner’s emphasis has been more on the pro side of evaluation while Fitterer focuses on the college side, but they both share responsibilities as well. During his time in Seattle, the Seahawks have brought in a ton of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the football but also including Russell Wilson (draft) and Marshawn Lynch (trade). The Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013, and a large part of that was the talent they had brought in. Despite all of the success, however, Kirchner seems to maintain some humility. When asked by a Seahawks reporter about the late round stars the Seahawks have been able to find, Kirchner responded by saying, “Well if we really knew that they were going to be that good, we would have taken them in the first or second round” before then going on to praise the coaching staff for their development and faith in players.
Like Kirchner, Fitterer also holds the title of co-director of player personnel for the Seahawks. Once again, a Seahawks.com video proves very useful in getting to know Fitterer. He was actually originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the MLB out of college, but Fitterer has been working with the Seattle Seahawks since 2001. Born and raised in Seattle, he grew up rooting for the Seahawks and now oversees the player development process alongside Kirchner. Fitterer said that his emphasis is in college scouting while Kirchner focuses on the pro side, but the two share their responsibilities and therefore have experience with both sides of things. Part of Fitterer’s job (alongside Kirchner) includes handling the day-to-day operations of the personnel department, handling the draft, and working on scheduling scouts.
As mentioned with Kirchner, the Seahawks have accomplished quite a bit recently, culminating with their Super Bowl victory in 2013. They have brought in a ton of talent through the draft, including Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson, and more. The Seahawks have been a good example of a team adding talented players to their organization, and Fitterer and Kirchner both have played a significant role in that.
Paton is the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, working alongside GM Rick Spielman. He began his career by working with the Chicago Bears in their college and pro scouting departments before he became the assistant director of pro personnel in Chicago in 2000. A year later, he took the director of pro personnel position with the Miami Dolphins, where he stayed for six years (2001-2006). After that he joined the Minnesota Vikings, where he’s been since (2007-present). According to the Vikings’ website, “Paton’s primary focus is coordinate scouting and personnel functions within the Vikings Pro Scouting Department and lend his expertise to the College Scouting Department as they prepare for the annual NFL Draft.” He has worked with Spielman in Chicago, Miami, and now Minnesota and has previously shown a hesitancy to leave the Vikings, but he’s reportedly the frontrunner for the San Francisco 49ers’ open GM position.
During Paton’s time with the Vikings they have enjoyed quite a bit of success, primarily in 2008 and 2009 (in 2009 they came incredibly close to making the Super Bowl but lost in over time to the Saints). The Vikings have rebuilt the team since then, winning the division in 2015 by going 11-5. In 2016, the team was ravaged by injuries and went 8-8, but when healthy they have some good talent.
Wolf is the director of football operations for the Green Bay Packers, the team for which Wolf’s father Ron was a longtime general manager and Hall of Famer. Eliot Wolf began watching film and scouting with his father when he was just ten years old and filed his first report for the Atlanta Falcons when he was just 14. Since 1993, Wolf has contributed to 24 straight Packers draft preparations, and in 2004 was officially hired as a pro personnel assistant. He held that job for four years (2004-2008) and since has served in roles as the director of pro personnel and director of player personnel before he was promoted to director of football operations last year. Wolf, who’s just 34 years old (and Jim Irsay mentioned that it could be a young guy in his 30s taking the job), recently signed a new contract with the Packers as he withdrew his name from the 49ers’ GM search, and he is viewed by many as the eventual replacement to GM Ted Thompson in Green Bay.
He’s viewed as one of the top young personnel guys in football, and the Packers have been on a very successful run in recent years. They have made the playoffs in each of the eight seasons (winning five division titles) and won the Super Bowl in 2010.
Ballard is the director of football operations for the Kansas City Chiefs, a role he’s had for the past two seasons. Before that, he was the director of player personnel for two seasons with the Chiefs after being brought in with new GM John Dorsey and new coach Andy Reid. Prior to his time in Kansas City, Ballard spent twelve seasons with the Chicago Bears. From 2001-2011 he was the southwest area scout for the Bears, and he helped in the draft process in taking Matt Forte and Charles Tillman, among others. In his final year with the Bears, 2012, he was the director of pro scouting.
During his time with the Chiefs, the team has put together four straight winning seasons, a division title, and two playoff appearances. They have brought in players such as Travis Kelce, Marcus Peters, and Tyreek Hill through the draft, and they have a very talented and balanced team.
The assistant general manager for the Baltimore Ravens, DeCosta has been with the Ravens organization for the entirety of his NFL career. He began as an area scout in 1996 before becoming the director of college scouting in 2003. He filled that role for six years before becoming the director of player personnel in 2009, and he stayed in that role for three years until he was promoted to assistant general manager in 2012. He works closely with Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, and the two have done a good job of building the team over the years, bringing in guys such as Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ray Rice, and Joe Flacco, among others. According to ESPN, DeCosta took over the role of running the NFL Draft for the Ravens in 2005 and has final say on draft picks.
Thus far, DeCosta really hasn’t seemed interested in leaving the Ravens. There have been plenty of interested teams - including the Colts in 2012 - but DeCosta has always opted to stay in Baltimore. So just like with all the other candidates on this list, it’s not certain he’ll agree to an interview, but he’s a well-respected personnel guy.