Seahawks Insider

A first look at potential GM candidates

Post by Eric Williams on Dec. 5, 2009 at 9:26 am with 51 Comments »
December 7, 2009 5:12 pm


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.

“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.

RandyMuellermug 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.

heckert 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.

webster-150x150 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.

SteveKeimmug 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.

kuharich 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).

sundquist 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.

McKenzie(2) 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.

Sneadmug 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.

raye 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.

decosta 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.

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Leave a comment Comments → 51
  1. BORNHAWK says:

    I would prefer if we tried to avoid anybody that has the same philosophy as Ruskell, it wasn’t working. No matter what he said, it wasn’t working. My vote is Holmgren but from this list the other candidate that jumps out at me is Eric DeCosta, tell me that guy wouldn’t know how to build a defense.

  2. heyyou_66 says:

    Great comparison Eric……….thanks

  3. Dukeshire says:

    Eric, I’ll save the long winded rebuttals and / or endorsements of each and just thank you for a good post. Perfect food for thought.

  4. tacstar253 says:

    They are NOT going to find any body that knows half as much about football as Holmgren. I think he is too loyal to players sometimes but he KNOWS football.

  5. I vote for the guy who will go hard and heavy on the cream of the crop FA offensive line talent and who will then build the team from the draft with as many trade down scenarios on draft day as possible (to add more picks).

  6. princeaden says:

    I had no idea that Randy Mueller had left N.O. In my mind it’s a three horse race between Holmgren, Mueller and Keim. But, I will admit that I’m not equiped with enough info on the others. If my vote did count, I would be hard pressed to pass on Mueller after seeing what he’s done w/the Saints.

  7. I’m even more convinced that Holmgren is our man. Surely, there must be better candidates than the guys on that list?!

    Mueller: ’95 – ’99 were not exactly the golden years of Seahawks football.
    Heckert: Reid’s house boy?
    Webster: Ruskell’s protege?!
    Keim: At least he might place more value on OG.
    Kuharich: KC, really?! He got beat by Ruskell.
    Sundquist: Denver?! Oh, gosh.
    McKenzie: Green Bay?
    Snead: Atlanta? No more Falcons rejects.
    Raye II: Couldn’t get hired by KC?
    DeCosta: We need help on offense.

  8. princeaden says:

    Audible: Have you noticed the improvement of the Saints recently? They are a pretty darn solid team. Unless I’m wrong which I am from time to time, it’s thanks in large part to Randy Mueller.

  9. Why I don’t want the Saints reject:

    If they knew how good Drew Brees was going to be (with a healthy shoulder), they would have pursued him harder. The Dolphins almost signed him and the Saints probaby got lucky the stupid Dolphins had a Culpepper Plan B (or A).

    Reggie Bush with that high of a pick would fit in with Ruskell and his first round busts.

    If they were so smart and knew Colston was going to be that good, perhaps they should have used a 6th rounder on him to ensure he’d be available?

    Trading a 2nd rounder for Shockey. He’s good, but he’s a moron. I may miss the Ruskell character requirements.

    In the grand scheme of things, I really do admire how the Saints have turned things around and that it’s better to get someone from a succcessful franchise… playing the opposite side of the fence.

  10. princeaden,

    Muler left the Saints on 2002, he was a talking head on ESPN for three years, then he hired Cam Cameron to coach Miami and was fired by Parcells soon thereafter. No way is Muler better than Holmgren, let-alone one of the best three candidates that we have to choose from.

  11. Ruston Webster is from the same school as Ruskell, similar experience and they worked together in Tampa on their way up. That’s not a bad thing, and I think the current system would work fine as long as they do two things:
    1) avoid blowing first round draft picks, and
    2) avoid over-paying for aging free agents.
    Ruskell made those two mistakes, more than once, and it sunk him. But Webster might do better. Webster comes from a strong scouting background, and helped build the successful Tampa teams, and he knows Leweike and Mora well, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    If hired, Holmgren might possibly bring in Randy Mueller with him. That could be a big bonus. Its not a one-man job. Whomever is hired needs to have a solid crew of scouts to do most of the work.

    Steve Keim is a really interesting pick. He’s done a great job in Phoenix (although he had the advantage of many high draft picks after Cards losing seasons). I don’t know if he’s really GM material, but he could be a great Personnel Director for us if he would come.

  12. princeaden says:

    Well, there ya have it. I was wrong once again. Not a big shocker. Thanks for the info.

  13. Dukeshire says:

    Bobby – Your criticise Mueller for not going after Brees hard enough, but they got him. Or not selecting Colston high enough, but they got him. Seems like he accurately values his targets unlike Ruskell. We talk here a lot about how Ruskell overpaid many times but Mueller seems to have a better sense of value. He is a HUGE reason the Saints are where they are. He helped get them out from under Rickey Williams, too.

  14. princeaden,

    Welcome to the club! I’ve been schooled many, many times on this blog because we’re lucky enough to have some really smart dudes on here.

  15. seahawklovertoo says:

    Holmgren for Prez !!! Eric DeCosta or, Tim Heckert for GM.

  16. BobbyAyala says:

    “Your criticise Mueller for not going after Brees hard enough, but they got him.”

    Duke, they only got him because Miami chose Culpepper. That’s not exactly a coup.

  17. Alabama LG, Mike Johnson, just made a few nice blocks a the TD run. He’s one of the guys I want with our 2nd rounder (if we can’t take care of OL in FA).

  18. bird_spit says:

    Holmy and Mueller parted ways once Holmgren took over. Mueller lasted a year if memory serves.

    Guys..all the dig on Holmgren is really about his defensive acuity. People forget he lost his right hand man in his first season. People forget Fritz Shurmur died, and the Holmy defense was probably never realized.

    I think given another go at GM, Holmgren will have high quality people around him. Can we please get the man back? That list only has one gem. God I hope the list gets better..

    By the way..check out this link for Holmgren’s first go as GM. (thanks to Sando)

    Something tells me a re-invigorated Holmgren has 10 times the football knowledge than these guys on the list. He is a proven winner, every stop he has made brought at least one Superbowl.

    PS: Can we please have Parcell’s added to this list?

  19. FireRuskellNow says:

    Man all of these guys have great resumes, I am so glad we won’t have Ruskell to waste two more draft picks!!

  20. Dukeshire says:

    BobbyAyala – As I remember it, they chose him, by and large, because he was cheaper. Miami ask him Brees if he would be willing to accept less guaranteed money (I believe NO had offered $10 million his 1st year) because of cap restraints. Brees said no and Miami traded for Culpepper. That’s how I remember it, but I can’t say I followed that as closely as I would a Seahawk FA signing. I stand by my original claim however, that Mueller has a good sense of value when it comes to these things and played it just right to land Brees.

  21. seahawklovertoo says:

    BobbyK, I am watching the same game too. I still like Cyron Black better. I watched every important game that LSU had played this year, and he never gave up a sack or even a hurry. ( The reason LSU lost this many games is because their QB is horrible.) Cyron Black doesn’t get as much respect as he (maybe) deserves is because he may not be the smartest guy on the field, but he is good and versatile tackle. Unlike Okung who hasn’t been challenged the last 4-5 games (because the opponent “D” doesn’t even try his side), Cyron Black worked his butt off on every down.

  22. freedom_X says:

    On Randy Mueller – Randy Mueller didn’t land Brees. Mueller was with Miami by then I think, at any rate, he was long gone from New Orleans and was not responsible for getting Brees. If anything, he might have been the person who failed to bring Brees to Miami (though I’m not sure about that.)

    Mueller is a great guy and a great story, having worked himself from the bottom up as a front office guy, but there’s a reason he’s already lost 2 GM jobs in a decade. He overspends in free agency, and leaves his teams in a bad cap situation. Remember, Holmgren talked about how he had to clean up the cap after his initial season with Seattle and took the 6-10 hit.

    I don’t really see why Holmgren wouldn’t fit into Seattle, as far as doing it the “Seattle way.” He was part of the “Seattle way” up until last year, unless Holmgren was just chafing to blow the org up (which I have no reason to believe.)

  23. Dukeshire says:

    Lol, I had to look it up, but you are absolutely right. Mickey Loomis (who ironically was with Seattle too, for 15 years) was the Saints GM by then. I’m going to do some homework before I start bumping my gums about other teams FO, in the future.

  24. Point taken.

  25. Audible says:

    “as far as doing it the “Seattle way.” He was part of the “Seattle way” up until last year”


    Best post on this thread! Holmgren was the Seattle way up until last year when Ruskell’s bad moves finally crept up close enough to bite us in the ass. Before Holmgren, the Seattle way was that of the perreninal division whipping boy.

    I’m still troubled by that Leweike quote where he said we’re going to find a coach to join us. I sounded really arrogant to me and made me think Leweike has a very short memory. I hope he doesn’t forget who put fans in the seats enough to justify our new stadium. Leweike wouldn’t have a job here had Holmgren not invented the Seahawks way that turned this team around.

  26. bird_spit, yes indeed, the return of a “re-invigorated Holmgren” would seem hard to beat. I guess we just have to see if this is what Leweike has in mind when he said the new GM will have to come in and do things “our way”.

    But Bill Parcels? I don’t think that will happen since Parcels is a guy who would insist on doing it “his way”.

  27. Audible, yes I think a lot of us are wondering what Leweike meant when he said the new GM will need to come in and do it “our way”. His way? Paul Allen’s way? The way he and Ruskell were doing it?

    Or maybe he means the Seahawks Way in the tradition of Mike Holmgren?

  28. Audible says:

    Yeah, Stevos…that would be the best possible interpretation of his comments. I guess we can only hope that’s what he’s talking about because it seems that “our way” without Holmgren isn’t working all that well right now.

  29. seahawklovertoo says:

    Audible, Stevos, You just deflated my enthusiasm . I missed that statement; it scares the lights out of me. A couple of companies I worked for (and have left them) insisted on “their way to get things done” and, are out of the business now. Success in life and business is all about how one handles change and ones’ flexibility. Maybe Mr. Leiweke is the one who should be out of the door next. After all, he can be blamed for our misery as much as Ruskell.

  30. seahawklovertoo says:

    BobbyK, thank for the link. I never claimed that Cyron Black is the best LT and I sure missed that one sack that he is blamed for. I agree that he is second rounder He is rated as the second best tackle in SEC which in my book is better than rated first in PAC10 or most of the other conferences. Oher was rated second in SEC as well. I am just saying that he will be there for our 3rd pick. I just like him and his excellent pass blocking skills.
    I agree with You about Mike Johnson, he had a great game.I wish Gators won.
    Tebow was horrible this time,
    I am scared to hope for Nebraska win tonight. Good luck to Your team BobbyK.

  31. If we can win this game tonight, it’ll make up for ’96 when we were going to have a chance for a National Championship and Texas sucked (but they snuck out with the win). If the Gods even things out, we win tonight (even though Texas is better).

  32. Audible says:


    It’s just a concern…There’s a third-party organization bringing in candidates, and Allen will likely make listen to everyone’s arguments and choose for himself. He’s a smart man, and we don’t have no reason to question his judgement at this point. We may be surprised by a choice that nobody has even thought of right now, If you remember, we snagged Holmgren away from Green Bay before they had even played that last superbowl game. There’s a really good chance that if they don’t go with Holmgren that Allen and Co. will lure a heavy-hitter away from some other team. The dude doesn’t mess around. So, get excited and stay that way because Allen is not going to field a mediocre team.

  33. Audible says:

    Allen has no problem getting rid of anyone who’s not going to make this team great. Erickson, Holmgren as GM the first time, Ruskell….I think the message is clear: Win and you keep your job. Period. Clearly, Allen doesn’t need press conferences to make a statement.

  34. But he’s been fielding one for a few years running.

    Want to get a good laugh… I’m getting ready for the Big XII Championship Game and they are about to kick-off… and the satellite is out… I’m still waiting to watch the game…

  35. Audible says:

    Bobby, try …you can tune it in there until the Satellite comes back.

    I think Allen got rid of Ruskell at exactly the right time. Last year, we had all of those injuries, so Ruskell got the benefit of the doubt a little bit. This year, not so much….he waited to see how the team would perform once everyone got healthy, he saw a team that was disorganized and underperforming…so he pulled the plug.

    Prior to last year, I don’t think Allen had collected enough information to make a solid decision.

  36. Dukeshire says:

    Bobby – Was that the game James Brown, on 4th and less than 1, threw the 40 whatever yard TD to his TE to basically win the game? That had to sting.

  37. bird_spit says:

    My gut feel is, Holmgren was the heart and soul of the team. He was making due with the decisions on players that Ruskell was making. The organization had committed to Ruskell for 5 years. The timing of allowing Holmgren to take a “breather” was timed to allow them to evaluate Ruskell for a year, and allow them to recover if they needed to. The pressure put on by the Holmgren camp via Cleveland forced them to move up the timeline. My gut says Holmgren is basically the only candidate.

    I wish there were others as powerful and as available. Holmgren fits the Seahawks like a glove though. He handles the press so well, and has already proven he can mentor Mora. I fear for Knapps job (not really fear). My gut says special teams and OC will be history. Mora has assembled a good defensive coaching core. Holmgren can assist Mora in making proper decisions on the O side, as right now it is all Knapp (from appearances).

    Hell – with the core on D, Mora might actually gain power as Holmgren has to rely on the intelligence of others for the D. Likely Ruskell had a lot of power there until now.

    I will go out on a limb, and predict the return of Holmgren, and the return of the NFC West Champion banner in 2010/11. Two 1st rounders is a lot of an owner that will want a winner sooner rather than later.

  38. Duke – yes. That was that game. Bad memories.

    Anyone else watching Suh? Absolute f-ing beast. He has never had a game where he disappears either. I sure wish we had the #1 pick.

  39. Audible says:

    What is the most you would give up to draft Suh? Both 1st rounders?

  40. Audible says:

    Yeah, I’m a huge Suh fan, thanks to you Bobby…2 1/2 sacks in the first half. That one handed tackle of McCoy was crazy. He would anchor our defense help us turn the corner there….damn, I wish we could get him. It almost tempts me to want the hawks to lose out….I can’t do that but damn, I want to see him in Seahawks blue.

  41. Audible says:

    Can you imagine our linebackers with Suh and Mebane up front? Our D would instantly rise to a top ten unit.

  42. Audible says:

    What if Mark Ingram came out this year? Any takers???

  43. This is obviously premature, but he’s got the talent where, if he stays healthy and gets drafted by the right team, I can see him joining Walt and Largent in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. That’s a lot for a guy who hasn’t even finished his last down of college football, but his potential is immense in the NFL.

    I don’t think we can trade both #1s for him. We have too many holes. But if we could do a 2-for-2 trade where we pick up a lesser pick (like a 2nd rounder in return) then I’m all for it. He certainly has “cornerstone” written all over him! And in this case, I don’t care about the crazy rookie salary that accompanies the #1 overall pick either.

  44. I’d rather have Ingram’s Left Guard (if we can’t take care of that position in FA).

  45. I don’t think Suh would pass a physical because I don’t think he’s really human.

  46. Audible says:

    3 1/2 sacks….with 26 minutes left in the game…he’s a freak of nature.

  47. Dukeshire says:

    If Nebraska can pull the upset, we might get a TCU / Alabama championship game. That would incredible for TCU.

  48. Dukeshire says:

    … and yes, Suh is having an incredible game on the biggest stage of his college career. Damn…

  49. Take Holmgren!!!!!

  50. bird_spit says:

    I caught Suh’s game tonight. I would give 2 – 1st rounders, and handle the Offensive line via 2nd round (which I’d want in exchange, with Suh).

    He would be grade A+ 1st rounder no doubt. That one sack is likely on Youtube already.

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