Ernie Accorsi has been here before, guiding a team through the process of selecting a general manager. He's admittedly been accused in the past of steering a search in favor of his friends.
Accorsi denied those claims in the past.
The former New York Giants general manager will surely be faced with similar doubts this time around as he aids the Giants' search for a successor to Jerry Reese, a man that he recommended to fill his shoes in 2007. His former director of pro personnel Dave Gettleman is considered the favorite to succeed Reese, according to multiple league insiders.
If past history is any sort of indicator, the Giants won't have a sprawling, extended search. Accorsi had a narrow pool of interviewees when he helped the Carolina Panthers (2013), Chicago Bears (2015) and Detroit Lions (2016) find their current general managers. All three teams made their hires approximately a week after the regular season ended.
The Lions interviewed three candidates for the job, before jumping at the opportunity to hire former New England Patriots executive Bob Quinn. Current Giants interim general manager Kevin Abrams was one of the three candidates interviewed. Lions executive Sheldon White was the other.
Co-owner John Mara said last week that Abrams would be a candidate for the Giants job.
The Bears interviewed four candidates during their search before settling on Saints director of player personnel Ryan Pace. Kansas City's Chris Ballard, Tennessee's Lake Dawson and Houston's Brian Gaine also interviewed. Ballard is currently the Colts' general manager while Dawson and Gaine are working in Buffalo.
The Panthers interviewed six candidates, including current Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross. They eventually choose Gettleman with the help of Accorsi.
Gettleman spent four seasons as the Panthers general manager and reached a Super Bowl. The jury is still out on Pace and Quinn while the Atlanta Falcons, who Accorsi helped hire Thomas Dimitroff in 2008, have also reached a Super Bowl.
That's two general managers found from the Patriots tree with Bill Belichick, one from the Giants and another from the Saints where Sean Payton -- a former Giants assistant coach -- yields plenty of power.
The Giants pool of candidates is likely to begin with Gettleman, Abrams and Ross, with New England's Nick Casserio lurking. Seattle's Trent Kirchner, who was scheduled for an interview that never happened with the Lions, could also be an option.
The rules prohibit the Giants from talking with any candidate from another team until at least their regular season ends. Even then, they must provide a professional courtesy to the owner or operating head of the team from which they wish to request an interview with their employee. They would need cooperation from those teams to speak with executives whose teams are in the playoffs.
The way that Accorsi seems to work is that he has his pool of candidates set way in advance.
"What happens with these things, No. 1, I always kept a list live," Accorsi told the Detroit Free Press in 2015. "And I always asked questions about people. And to people I respected. The other thing, I'm on [the NFL's career development advisory panel]. So we're discussing those people all the time.”
Accorsi added that he's always talking to general managers throughout the year about which executives are potential future GMs. He feels that first the individual has to be in a director's job. That is almost certainly a prerequisite.
The career development advisory panel's suggestions also hold a lot of weight.
"I have some people, and we do (on the NFL advisory committee), that are scouts that I'm convinced are going to be general managers," Accorsi told the Free Press. "And this is the same way that I felt about Jerry Reese when he was a scout. They need to graduate to a director's job before they're ever on the threshold. People aren't going to hire a scout to be general manager having not been a supervisor somewhere. But that's part of the love of the business is you track these guys.
"Believe me, a lot of them are strangers. I don't know who they are. Particularly now. I don't know this whole new cast of young guys, but it's my job on this committee or this panel to try to be familiar with them."
It's part of why almost every year a team consults Accorsi to help with their general manager search. This year it just so happens to be an organization he knows better than most, and is more familiar with some of the candidates than usual.