The Chargers did what was necessary and cut bait with long-time general manager Tom Telesco after nearly 11 seasons. In that span, the Chargers made it to the postseason just three times and winning two playoff games, despite being one of the more talented teams in the league over the past decade. The Chargers became synonymous with underachieving. Now, the Spanos family will look to right their past wrongs by taking the franchise in a new direction. For now, that starts with find their next general manager.
After the recent hires of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Vikings), Ron Carthon (Titans), and Ryan Poles (Bears), teams have shown a propensity for wanting to fin that young upstart who can help take their team into the modern era. All three of those general managers are between 38 and 42 years old and the Chargers could be the next team hoping to inject their front office with the some much-needed life.
While there’s not a plethora of candidates squarely in that age range, there’s still plenty of promising individuals I believe the Chargers should interview in the coming months.
Here are four of my favorites in no particular order!
1.) Ian Cunningham - Bears Assistant General Manager
Resume: Eagles Director of Player Personnel (‘17-’21), Ravens Area Scout (‘08-’11)
Cunningham is probably my personal early favorite to be the next general manager of the Chargers. He’s got the combination of youth and experience that franchises look for in the up-and-coming candidates and it helps that he has spent his time coming up in the league with two of the NFL’s best franchises.
He was a member of the Eagles when they won the Super Bowl over Tom Brady and the Patriots and he spent a handful of years helping build the Ravens before they won a Super Bowl in 2012, the very next year after he left the team.
When I think of NFL franchises that can’t ever seem to do anything, both the Eagles and Ravens come to mind. I don’t know how many times I’ve watch both teams crush the NFL draft only for me to say, “They can’t keep getting away with this!”
If I had my way, this would be the guy.
2.) Adam Peters - 49ers Assistant General Manager
Resume: Broncos Director of College Scouting (‘09-’16), Patriots Pro Scout (‘03-’08)
Just like I mentioned above how the Titans dove into the 49ers staff to find Ron Carthon, the Chargers could go right back to San Francisco to find another budding member of their front office. Peters was with the Broncos during those Peyton Manning seasons when they won Super Bowl 50 and before that he was with the Patriots during the early 2000s when they had some of their best seasons with Bill Belichik and Tom Brady.
Take out the Eagles and Ravens and the next franchise I’d love to snatch a potential general manager from is the 49ers. They’ve gone from having a top-three pick in the NFL draft to being an annual Super Bowl contender in just a handful of years and that’s the type of turnaround the Chargers need in a bad way.
3.) Glenn Cook - Browns Assistant General Manager
Resume: Packers Pro Scout (‘12-’15), Colts Pro Scout (‘11)
Cook has reportedly impressed in recent interview cycles over the past few years but has yet to claim a general manager job as of now. Still, he’s expected to only be a year or two away at this point in time, especially after the job he’s done helping the Browns turn their defense into one of the best in the NFL after adding numerous impact free agents, including edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.
Even with the Browns having started four different quarterbacks this year, alone, they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot. That’s a lot more than we can currently say for the Chargers who just got blown out in their first game without starting quarterback Justin Herbert.
4.) Terrance Gray - Bills Director of Player Personnel
Resume: Vikings Regional Scout (‘05-’16)
Gray is the lone candidate here that isn’t currently holding the role of assistant general manager. However, that hasn’t stopped him from earning praise from around the league for the job he’s done in Buffalo. Gray’s largest chunk of his resume comes from his time as a member of the Vikings where he scouted the southeastern region of the country. During time, the Vikings found a number of impact players from his region, including edge rusher Danielle Hunter, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and wide receiver Sidney Rice.
In recent years with the Bills, he’s helped bring in guys like cornerback Tre’Davious White, linebacker Milano, and of course quarterback Josh Allen.