With Chris Ballard choosing to stay in Kansas City rather than taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' general manager position, the Bucs are continuing their search for a general manager. The new favorite appears to be Lionel Vital, current director of player personnel for the Atlanta Falcons, per reports by Gil Brandt and Jason Cole.
Vital has had a long, 23-year history as a personnel executive and scout in the NFL, coming up through the ranks of several organizations and primarily working within the extensive (and successful) Scott Pioli/Bill Belichick/Ozzie Newsome network.
Two interesting dynamics are at work in this general manager search: whoever will get the job won't have final say over personnel, as Lovie Smith has secured that power. However, this will not be Lovie's hire but rather the Glazers', although Lovie Smith will no doubt be involved in the talks. The relationship between a head coach and general manager is crucial to the efficient functioning of any team, and the Bucs will be no exception.
Another interesting point is that this is the Glazers' first time conducting a full-scale general manager search. They've only had three general managers since taking over the team in 1995 (four if you count Sam Wyche), and none of them were hired after any kind of search.
Rich McKay was already in place when the Glazers took over, and they simply gave him Sam Wyche's (somewhat vague) control over personnel. Bruce Allen was hired on Jon Gruden's say-so, when it became clear that Gruden and McKay would not be able to work together productively. And Mark Dominik was an in-house hire after Bruce Allen was fired. Not one general manager search among them.
That means the Glazers are breaking new ground for themselves, and to an extent this GM search seems similar to the head coaching search from two years ago: exhaustive and long. With Lovie Smith having final say this is not the most attractive position for prospective general managers, however, and we'll have to watch and see whether their second favorite candidate will want to come to Tampa.
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- Buccaneers unlikely to hire Chris Ballard as general manager
- Lionel Vital to interview for Buccaneers' general manager position