Who Are the Most Appealing GM Candidates For the Vikings?

Photo Credit: Rich Barnes (USA TODAY Sports)

The Wilfs acted swiftly Monday morning, and the Minnesota Vikings are officially embarking on a new era.

For the first time since 2012, the Wilfs find themselves tasked with rebuilding their front office. I wondered if Rick Spielman was part of the solution back in November. The Wilfs agreed with my assessment, moving on from their GM Monday morning.

With Mark Wilf saying that the first order of business is hiring a GM, then hiring the head coach after, let’s look at five of the most appealing candidates who could potentially run the Vikings’ front office.

Eliot Wolf

New England Patriots front office consultant, former Cleveland Browns assistant GM, former Green Bay Packers executive

Wolf is the son of former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who won the Super Bowl in 1996. Eliot spent 14 years in the Packers’ front office, from 2004-17. Wolf was reportedly in the running to be the successor to former Packers GM Ted Thompson. But the Packers gave the job to Brian Gutekunst, who also spent more than a decade working alongside Thompson and Wolf in their front office. After the Packers passed on Wolf, he took the Cleveland Browns assistant GM position in 2018 under John Dorsey when the former Kansas City Chiefs GM took the position in December 2017.

When the Browns moved on from Dorsey following the 2019 season, Wolf joined the New England Patriots’ front office as a consultant, where he currently serves.

At 39 years old, Wolf has spent his entire adult life learning how to run an NFL front office successfully. It’s only a matter of time until he’s the head man. Wolf is in a similar mold to Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach, having spent his entire career in successful front offices while still possessing a firm grasp of how the modern NFL works.

Rick Smith

Former Houston Texans general manager

Smith was Houston’s GM from 2006-17 before being replaced by head coach Bill O’Brien. Smith had to step away from his duties to help take care of his wife, who was stricken with cancer. Before running the Houston front office, Smith was an assistant defensive backs coach for the Denver Broncos from 1996-99 and won back-to-back Super Bowls in ’97 and ’98.

In Smith’s first NFL Draft as GM of the Texans in 2006, he said to heck with the consensus and passed on the widely expected No. 1 pick, Reggie Bush, and instead selected defensive end Mario Williams with the top choice. While folks questioned Smith for passing on the former Heisman Trophy running back, the selection proved to be the correct one. Williams recorded 97.5 sacks over his 11-year NFL career.

Smith — who is Black — would provide the Vikings and the NFL with much-needed diversity and is more than qualified to lead this next chapter of Vikings football.

Mike Borgonzi

Kansas City Chiefs assistant general manager

Two weeks ago, I wrote about whether Borgonzi is ready to lead a front office.

Now that the GM position is officially open in Minnesota, the Wilfs would be wise to sit down with the assistant GM who has been with the Chiefs since 2009.

Jeff Ireland

New Orleans Saints assistant general manager & college scouting director

Last week I wrote about what it could look if the Wilfs decided to build their organization around Justin Jefferson.

In the piece, I wrote about the Wilfs bringing in Ireland to be their GM as part of an extensive New Orleans Saints blueprint that includes former Saints assistants Joe Lombardi as Minnesota’s head coach and Joe Brady as the offensive coordinator.

After Ryan Pace’s dismissal, reports link Ireland to the recently vacated Chicago Bears GM position. Should the Vikings look elsewhere for their GM, they could be competing against Ireland within the division.

Louis Riddick

ESPN Monday Night Football broadcaster, former executive with the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles

Year after year, Riddick is one of the most popular potential GM candidates whenever positions become available. After Howie Roseman and Andy Reid developed Riddick in Philadelphia’s front office from 2008-13, Riddick has become a household name for football fans because of his role with ESPN.

Riddick has previously interviewed for GM positions with the San Francisco 49ers, Texans, and Detroit Lions.

Given Riddick’s background in Philadelphia’s front office with Reid, Roseman, and current Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach, Riddick has learned from some of the best. And he still has a clairvoyant pulse on the league, even though it’s been nearly a decade since Riddick has been working in a front office. Check out what Riddick had to say about Patrick Mahomes in August 2018 when Mahomes had only one meaningless Week 17 start on tape.

Riddick also went on John Middlekauff’s podcast last year and provided tremendous insight on what the NFL GM interview process consists of.

If the Wilfs are looking for a splash hire at GM, Riddick would universally excite the fanbase. The caveat with Riddick that has long been reported is that if/when he lands a GM job, he and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are a package deal. McDaniels is reportedly his preferred head coach should Riddick be given the keys to an NFL front office. Riddick played for New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during their time together with the Browns in the ‘90s, and Riddick is reported to have deep ties to Belichick and the Patriots.

A fresh set of eyes has been long overdue for the Minnesota Vikings, especially in the front office. And with all of the outstanding candidates available to the Wilfs, they will undoubtedly have their hands full with the decision-making process over the next week or so.

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