NFC West: Eric Stokes

The relationship between Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers counterpart, Mark Dominik, played a role in the recent Kellen Winslow trade.

Schneider said so during subsequent interviews, and it makes sense.

Any team seeking to acquire a player wants general assurances it knows what it's getting. And while Dominik would of course put his own team's interests first, a GM might speak more frankly with a counterpart he knows and trusts.

That trust works both ways. A week after getting a late-round conditional draft choice for Winslow, the Bucs acquired their new college scouting director from Schneider's personnel department in Seattle. Eric Stokes, a former Seahawks safety, is leaving for Tampa Bay.

"Most recently, Stokes worked as the Seahawks' assistant director of college scouting (2010-11), during which time he was instrumental in bringing in the likes of defensive standouts Earl Thomas (first round, 2010), Kam Chancellor (fifth round, 2010), K.J. Wright (fourth round, 2011) and Richard Sherman (fifth round, 2011)," the Bucs said.

Personnel departments are largely set. The St. Louis Rams overhauled theirs. The Arizona Cardinals brought back Jason Licht, who had been with New England.
Ruston Webster's departure from the Seahawks to the Titans makes sense for all parties even though Webster fit well with Seattle's new front office.

Webster and Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt worked together in Seattle for the 2006 season. Lake Dawson, who heads up the Titans' pro personnel department, was also with Seattle at that time. Reinfeldt did not hire a director of player personnel in Tennessee upon taking the GM job there.

"I wanted the right person to fill that role and wanted to see how the organization would function in the various departments before making this hire," Reinfeldt said Friday in a Titans news release. "I have a great deal of respect for Ruston as a football guy and as a person. He will focus on the college draft, but will assist in the other areas of the personnel department as well."

Webster was well-liked in Seattle and his low-keyed, personable style was appreciated when the organization was navigating through a tumultuous few months after Tim Ruskell resigned as president and general manager. The move to Tennessee should suit Webster, who grew up in Mississippi and has worked primarily in the southeast.

With Webster leaving, the Seahawks promoted western region college scouting director Scott Fitterer to college scouting director, with area scout Eric Stokes, a former Seahawks safety, becoming assistant director of college scouting. Both have been with the Seahawks through most or all of the 2000s.

The personnel flow chart in Seattle now begins with coach Pete Carroll and continues with general manager John Schneider, vice president of football operations Will Lewis, Fitterer and pro personnel director Tag Ribary. Trent Kirchner serves as the assistant pro director, with Stokes handling similar duties on the college side.