Falcons VP Anderson a candidate for league office

ATLANTA -- Ray Anderson, who has served as the Atlanta Falcons' executive vice president and chief administrative officer for the last four years, has emerged as a top candidate to fill the post of NFL senior director of football operations.

The position became vacant when Art Shell left the league office to become head coach of the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

One prominent NFL owner with knowledge of the situation termed Anderson "well positioned" in his candidacy. The owner declined to characterize Anderson as the favorite for the post but acknowledged that he is highly regarded and has considerable support in league circles.

The other acknowledged candidate is former Houston general manager Charley Casserly, who resigned from the Texans in mid-May.

Anderson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Earlier Thursday offseason, Anderson was a candidate for a top front-office position in San Francisco, and 49ers management agreed he made a strong impression during his lengthy interview. Anderson withdrew his name from consideration for that post, though, when the process dragged into the start of the free-agency period. The job subsequently went to Lal Heneghan, who previously worked in the NFL office and with the Cleveland Browns.

A onetime player agent who also represented many high-profile NFL and college head coaches, Anderson moved into the Falcons' front office in 2002. Anderson has a diverse sports background and possesses strong consensus-building skills.

The position of NFL senior director of football operations principally deals with hearing the appeals of players who have been fined or sanctioned by the league and includes myriad other responsibilities as well.

The timetable for filling the position is not known and could be affected by the ongoing initiative to elect a successor to retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue by the middle of next month.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.