ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions team owner Martha Ford is conducting a national search to find the next team president and general manager of the franchise after she fired Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew earlier this month.
Ford offered no clues as to what she would be looking for in her first foray into front-office hiring other than she is going to try and hire the “very best leadership” for a franchise that has one playoff win in the Super Bowl era.
By making the moves when she did, she gave herself -- and whomever might be advising her in these decisions -- a wide swath of time to examine every possible candidate, and there are a lot of potentially logical ones out there. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at potential candidates for the general manager spot as well as handicap whether or not the Lions will interview him or her.
Potential candidate: Trent Kirchner
College: Saint John’s University (Bachelor’s)
Playing history: Two years at quarterback for Saint John’s (Minnesota).
Employment history: Public relations/college scouting intern, Seattle Seahawks (2000-2001); college scouting coordinator, Washington Redskins (2001-2002); pro scout, Carolina Panthers (2002-2010); assistant director, pro personnel, Seattle Seahawks (2010-2012); director of pro personnel, Seattle Seahawks (2013-2014); co-director, player personnel, Seattle Seahawks (2015-present)
Why he’d be a fit: He’s been one of the more popular names in NFL general manager circles the past few years, interviewing with the Jets last offseason for their GM post. He’s been one of the bigger keys to Seattle’s recent NFC success -- for instance, Seattle GM John Schneider credited Kirchner for setting up the team’s free agency board last offseason. While he’s never had control of an entire department, he’s worked his way up and has seen how multiple organizations run their operations. He also has a pedigree of success coming from Seattle, where the franchise has made shrewd draft moves and free-agency signings during his time in the front office. When he worked in the Pro Personnel department, he helped facilitate the trades for Marshawn Lynch and Jimmy Graham as well as the free-agent signings of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel and Sidney Rice. He also was partially responsible for the Percy Harvin and Matt Flynn moves, which didn’t work out so well for the Seahawks.
Are there concerns?: If there are any concerns, it would mostly be that he hasn’t held the position before. But at this point, he has the experience necessary as he moved up the personnel department with Seattle and has been involved in a lot of different areas. How he would handle the draft would be a question mark since he’s come up mostly in the pro personnel side of things, but he has been in a front office that has done well with building through the draft since 2010. He would have to put together a strong college scouting department.
Reality he would be a candidate: In my opinion, he is someone the Lions should heavily consider and almost definitely interview when they are allowed to talk with front office executives from other teams. He’s been in the candidate pool before and has helped build one of the top teams in the NFC. He’s been part of an organization not afraid to make trades to move up or back in the draft and also not afraid to pull off deals for veteran players who can help (see Lynch and Graham). The question Martha Ford may have is about some of the personalities the Seahawks brought in while he has been in Seattle, including Frank Clark in the draft and Percy Harvin in a trade. In June, the only time she has taken questions from the media, Ford said she believes in making smart character decisions, including “I just trust that we pick players that don’t have a problem.”
Previous candidate profiles:
Former Panthers GM Marty Hurney