PHILADELPHIA – The coincidences just keep on coming, but that’s not the real reason Thursday’s development was interesting.
Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Art Rooney II told reporters at the Senior Bowl that the Philadelphia Eagles requested permission to interview Brandon Hunt. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted the news. Hunt is Pittburgh’s pro scouting coordinator.
The coincidence is striking. In 1998, the Eagles hired a director of football operations from the Steelers' organization. Tom Modrak had more than 20 years of experience and had worked in different aspects of the football operation.
But Modrak was a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Hunt is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Modrak joined the Eagles just at the tail end of Ray Rhodes’ tenure as head coach, which had left the Eagles in disarray. Hunt is interviewing just as the Eagles are trying to regroup from Chip Kelly’s contentious tenure.
Modrak was there at the beginning of Andy Reid’s term as head coach. Hunt is interviewing for a job that would take effect at the beginning of Reid protégé Doug Pederson’s term as head coach.
The irony, of course, is that the Eagles keep looking to the stable Steelers organization for fresh personnel for their own volatile front office. Former Steelers executive Tom Donahoe is aiding Lurie and Roseman in their search.
More than those similarities, though, the news is the first indication of exactly what the Eagles are looking for in their search for a personnel executive. They may interview other candidates with varying amounts of experience or accomplishments, but their interest in Hunt suggests they are looking for someone who would fall in below Howie Roseman on the organizational chart.
Eagles owner Jeff Lurie was deliberately vague about that, claiming that revealing too much information could sabotage the Eagles’ search process. If Lurie announced he was looking for a general manager, candidates would come into the interview process with that expectation.
The suspicion has been that Lurie plans to leave Roseman, the former GM whose title is now executive vice president of football operations, in charge of personnel decisions.
Hiring someone who has been a GM, or had that kind of power, would create another potential conflict like the one between Roseman and Kelly. Lurie resolved that conflict by stripping Roseman of his authority and handing it over to Kelly. That arrangement lasted one season.
Hunt fits the profile of a promising young executive who is still working his way up the NFL ladder. He has the experience and the expertise to steer the Eagles’ personnel department, but would still be willing to defer to Roseman on major decisions.
That doesn’t mean Hunt actually feels that way, only that it’s the profile he fits. And it appears the Eagles’ search for a personnel executive is centered on that profile, which suggests Roseman will remain in charge of the draft and free agency.