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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
What's next for fired GMs?

By John Clayton
ESPN.com

Much has been made of the NFL's eight new coaches and seven new general managers.

But what happens to the general managers who have lost their jobs? As many ex-general managers have found out, getting jobs isn't easy. Some park themselves on network television until opportunities arise.

Others just wait.

One intriguing spectator is former San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, who built a perennial playoff team with QB Philip Rivers at the helm. But time caught up to the team, and it cost Smith and longtime coach Norv Turner their jobs.

Fans get frustrated when a franchise's run ends. Often, the local media rips at management, with many thinking the outgoing general manager won't land anywhere.

That will not be the case with Smith. He talked with the Jacksonville Jaguars about their general manager job. According to a source, a third party reached out to him about the New York Jets GM position, but nothing materialized.

"I would have loved the Jaguars' general manager situation," Smith said. "I saw it as the ultimate challenge to build a team. Mr. [Shahid] Khan [Jags owner] has a plan. He has a vision. It was very exciting to listen to him."

The Jacksonville situation didn't work out for Smith, but something will -- even if it's not a general manager job. Even though he has been low-profile since leaving the Chargers, Smith's phone hasn't been silent. Don't be surprised to see him surface with the Washington Redskins. Owner Dan Snyder knows him and has his respect. Plus, Smith is close friends with general manager Bruce Allen.

Over the years, it's sad to see good personnel men wait for new situations. Floyd Reese did a great job as general manager of the Tennessee Titans, but he had to do television until Bill Belichick brought him in to help in the Patriots' front office. The Pats aren't bringing Reese back next year.

Randy Mueller has been a successful general manager for a couple of teams. Smith hired him a few years ago with the Chargers, where he carries the title of senior executive. Mueller got a late call from the Jets and had an interview for the GM job that eventually went to John Idzik.

Jerry Angelo was thinking retirement when he was let go by the Chicago Bears last year. A year off, though, re-energized him. Angelo made it to the final interviews for the Jets job and would jump at the chance to get back in. So would Ted Sundquist, who did a great job with the Denver Broncos. And don't forget ESPN's Bill Polian, who might take a job if it appeals to him.

While it's great to see a new, fresh group of people become general managers, there is still a stockpile of former GMs who know how to put together winning teams.

From the inbox

Darrelle Revis
Should the Jets do everything they can to re-sign Darrelle Revis?

Q: Why would Woody Johnson say he believes the Jets would be unable to re-sign Darrelle Revis? Is there some way of gaining the upper hand in contract negotiations by making this public? It seems to me that after Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes leave the team following the 2013 season (plus many other veterans this offseason), John Idzik should be able to find a way to extend Revis' contract following the 2013 season after the cap situation improves.

Tim in Farragut, Tenn.

A: You are right. And it doesn't help negotiations. When the story came out, I understand Revis was surprised and his agents were disappointed. The reality is that it will be hard to re-sign Revis, but it's not impossible. Idzik has to clear up the cap problems this year and that won't be easy. Still, the Jets could structure a deal -- if they wish -- that could have two or three option bonuses spread out over a couple of years that would work for cap purposes. The Jets simply have to do it this year. They lose all the leverage if Revis plays out the season and becomes a free agent. In his last contract, the Jets voided the ability to give him the franchise tag.

Q: I just read about Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson being underpaid until their rookie contracts run out as per rules of the CBA. My question is: If both sides agree, what keeps Seattle from cutting Wilson, taking whatever cap hit is needed to do so and, since he would be a free agent, signing him to a seven-year, $50 million dollar-type deal locking him up long term and paying him his market value?

Kevin in Seattle

A: What prevents this is the new CBA and the waiver wire. If either player is cut, there would be multiple waiver claims and the players would be lost.

In the new CBA, owners wanted lower costs for rookies in the rookie pool and they wanted total control over the player for four years. They got that and there is no reason to give that up. Owners remember what happened in the last CBA. Agents started finding loopholes. Before long, rookie contracts skyrocketed to the point that top picks in the draft were getting $70 million-plus contracts. The owners locked out players for more than 130 days last year to fix the rookie pool.

Because of the new CBA, teams have peace and few worries about their top rookies for the first three years of their contract. If Kaepernick and Wilson continue to be stars, they will get their money in a couple of years.

Q: After looking at some early mock drafts for 2013, it looks like there will be a few teams reaching for a QB in the first round. If this holds true, do you see Matt Flynn's trade value increasing at all? I would think teams like Jacksonville or K.C. would jump at the chance to get him for a third-round pick and save their first-rounder for another need elsewhere.

Josh in Seattle

A: At first, I thought it would be difficult to get trade value for Flynn, who signed a three-year, $19.5 million contract. Now, I think the Seahawks have a chance to get a third- or fourth-round choice. There is a lack of consistency among the QBs in the 2013 draft class. There may be as many as three quarterbacks who could go in the first round, but this class doesn't look as though it will have the immediate impact of the past two years.

When you look at what remains of Flynn's contract, it's not bad. The Seahawks have already paid $8 million, leaving a two-year deal at $11.5 million. By comparison, 49ers backup QB Alex Smith has two years left on his deal at $16 million. New Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley knows Flynn. So does new Jets GM John Idzik. Flynn is good enough to start. For the teams not willing to use a first-round pick on a rookie, Flynn would be a viable option.

Q: For years fans, players and the media have called Tony Romo a choke artist because of a lack of success in the postseason with his 1-4 record. This postseason, Matt Ryan finally got his first playoff win. After losing to the 49ers, he's also 1-4 in the postseason. Ryan was the third overall pick in the 2008 draft. Romo was an undrafted free agent. I would think -- because of his high draft status -- Ryan's postseason record would garner him more criticism than Romo. That hasn't been the case. Why not?

Bryan in Mount Airy, Md.

A: I've always thought the criticism of Romo was unfair. He's not a choke artist. Neither is Ryan. What people keep forgetting is how hard it is to win playoff games.

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks who has put on an NFL uniform. He's had eight one-and-dones in the playoffs. Does that make him a choke artist? Absolutely not. Football is a team game. To get to the playoffs, you have to have a quarterback. But playoff quarterbacks are going against other top playoff quarterbacks, and those quarterbacks may have better teams or home-field advantage.

Q: Currently, the read option is flourishing in the NFL. How long that will actually last is unknown. That being said, could you see any chance of Andy Reid taking another shot with Vince Young as QB and implementing that option read for him? I don't believe VY ever got a true shot because teams were trying to make him more of a true pocket passer rather than what he really is, a mobile QB. Wilson, Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III all thrive with this system. I think VY could too if given the chance. Am I just reaching really far or could you see this as a possibility, even if a remote one? Do you see the read option fizzling out over the next couple of years like the Wildcat did?

Justin in Kansas City, Mo.

A: Reid will simply try to get the best quarterback he can to help the Chiefs. Getting a read-option type quarterback to fit a trend would be silly. I think the read option will be around for a while because the young quarterbacks running it are good. I think Michael Vick could run it, too. I don't have a problem with Reid going for Young as a backup, but not as the answer to the Chiefs' quarterback problems. Young deserves another chance, but Chiefs fans will be demanding a little more than taking a chance on Young.

Q: The league is continually looking for a better solution to the perennially boring and unwatchable Pro Bowl. Why don't they just hand out the award of being voted to the Pro Bowl as an accolade, and bring back the skills competitions and not play the game at all? I'd be highly entertained by passer competitions between Peyton Manning and the AFC's best vs. Aaron Rodgers and the NFC's best. That's must-see TV. Is this not something that the league has considered?

Darren in Austin, Texas

A: I'm sure the league has been thinking about it for a couple of years. Roger Goodell isn't happy with the quality of the Pro Bowl. The game has deteriorated into a high-scoring game that features little emotion and poor tackling. Goodell gave the players another year to make it better with the idea he might pull the plug. With the demand for football being high, I could see the NFL and the players' association reaching out to sponsors to have a skills competition.

Q: I am certainly no fan of the New York Giants, but I do remember Kevin Gilbride when he was with the Houston Oilers. He has now been the OC for the Giants for, what, 10 years? I am convinced that he is a major contributor to Eli Manning's success. My question is, why the heck has he not been offered a head-coaching position?

Jim in Lufkin, Texas

A: Good question. I do believe Manning developed properly with Gilbride calling the plays. He's always been a good offensive coach. But it takes a lot for an assistant to get hot. Look at Bruce Arians. He's been a great playcaller for years, but it took what he did as an interim coach in Indianapolis to become a hot assistant.

One problem Gilbride had in New York is that his best years make it tough for him to be hired. Teams looking for coaches rarely wait until the Super Bowl to find a head coach because it's hard putting the coaching staff together. His two Super Bowl years with the Giants didn't give him a chance to parlay that into a second head-coaching job.