Now the Seattle Seahawks have made their decision to let go of team president and general manager Tim Ruskell, the search for his replacement begins.
These words spoken by Seahawks CEO Tim Leiweke on Thursday stood out the most during the half-hour long affair.
“We’re not going to join them, they’re going to join us,” he said, when asked the GM search. “I think that one of the difficult things is, when you audit what’s happened over the past number of seasons, we’ve really become, in many ways, a pretty good organization.
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“Our stadium’s the loudest in the NFL. Our fans feel passion they certainly didn’t feel when I first walked in here. I don’t think this is a franchise that has to go out and beg someone to come here. I think this is a really strong and unique opportunity. So we’re going to find somebody who fits our prerequisite model of what we see as success going forward.”
That statement, along with the fact that the team retained Ruston Webster as the interim general manager and the rest of the scouting department, seems to suggest that the organization believes minor tweaking and not a major overall is needed.
And if that is true, then perhaps someone like Mike Holmgren or retaining Webster would be the move the franchise would pursue in order to maintain the order that’s been created by Ruskell. As we reported on Friday, Holmgren is indeed interested in the position.
But Leiweke, and ultimately team owner Paul Allen, who will pull the trigger on any decision, will have to reconcile that choice with the possible need for fresh eyes to be considered as an objective evaluator of talent with the struggles the Seahawks are going through on the field.
With that said, here are some potential candidates the Seahawks may be interested in as they move forward with their search.
Mike Holmgren -- The most successful Seahawks coach in the team’s history, Holmgren coached Seattle to its only Super Bowl in the 2005 season, and served as both the team’s general manager and coach from 1999 to 2002. Holmgren decided to take a year off from the game and suffered through a disappointing, 4-12 campaign in his final season as head coach of Seattle. But he's always asserted he wants to return to the game after this season, and is currently being courted by the Cleveland Browns to take over as head of that team’s football operations. Holmgren has to decided if he wants to be a front office guy or a head coach.
Randy Mueller – A blast from the past, Mueller began his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, working his way up the ladder from an assistant in pro personnel after a successful college football career at Linfield in 1983 to eventually serving as vice president of football operations from 1995 to 1999. Mueller went on to work as general manager at New Orleans and Miami, and currently serves a senior executive for the San Diego Chargers.
Tom Heckert – Heckert is currently serving as general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, working as head coach Andy Reid right-hand man, with Reid serving as head of the team’s football operations. He joined the Eagles as the head of the team’s player personnel department in 2001 after working for a decade in the Miami Dolphins player personnel department. Heckert was promoted to vice president of player personnel for Philadelphia in 2003.
Ruston Webster – He currently serves as the team’s interim general manager, and worked as Tim Ruskell’s right-hand man. The Seahawks organization values Webster's scouting ability, and he has a history of being loyal, staying with Tampa Bay for 18 years before moving on to join Seattle and Ruskell in 2005. Retaining Webster would make some sense because it would provide continuity within the organization, and head coach Jim Mora likely would be retained.
Steve Keim – The Arizona Cardinals player personnel director has received more attention lately, along with Cardinals general manager Rod Graves, with the recent success of the Cardinals. Keim has been with the Cardinals for 11 seasons, beginning as a regional scout in 1999. And he also was a pretty good football player in college at North Carolina state, finishing as a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection as an offensive guard. TNT columnist John McGrath tooted Keim’s horn this morning, calling him the NFL’s version of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik.
Bill Kuharich– Former Kansas City Chiefs vice president of player personnel who was let go when Scott Pioli took over, Kuharich was a candidate for the vacant GM position in Seattle initially when Ruskell got the job. He was with the Chiefs for eight seasons, and before that worked for 14 years in the scouting department for New Orleans, where he served as president and general manager of the Saints before taking the job with Kansas City. Kuharich comes from a football family. His father, the late Joe Kuharich, served as a college head coach at San Francisco (’48-51) and Notre Dame (’59-62).
Ted Sundquist – He last served as the general manager of the Denver Broncos, and also was a candidate when Ruskell earned the job in 2005. Sundquist also interviewed for the Kansas City general manager position that went to Pioli. Sundquist spent 16 years with the Broncos, basically working his way up from the college scouting department. Sundquist also is reportedly pursuing the vacant Cleveland position.
Reggie McKenzie – Director of football operations for the Green Bay Packers, McKenzie was a finalist for the vacant general manager position in Atlanta. He's been with the Packers organization for 15 years, and also played seven years in the NFL as a linebacker. McKenzie would fulfill the team’s obligation for interviewing a minority candidate under the Rooney Rule.
Les Snead – Snead was recently elevated to player personnel director for the Atlanta Falcons, and worked for Ruskell when he was with Atlanta. He's been with the Falcons for 11 seasons, and before that Snead worked in the scouting department at Jacksonvill from 1995 to 1997. Snead played tight end at Auburn, where he earned Southeast Region Academic All-American honors during his college career.
Jimmy Raye III -- Currently serves as the player personnel director for the San Diego Chargers, and has been with the team since 1996. Raye was a candidate for the Kansas City general manager position over the offseson. He also would fulfill team’s obligation to interview a minority candidate under the Rooney Rule. Raye’s father, Jimmy Raye II, is the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.
Eric DeCosta – DeCosta has been with the Ravens organization for 13 years, and was promoted to player personnel director this year. DeCosta oversees Baltimore's draft process, helping in the process of selecting Deleware quarterback Joe Flacco and guard Ben Grubbs.