Bucs looking at Chris Ballard as GM

TAMPA, Fla. -- Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went with an experienced head coach in Lovie Smith, they might go with a first-time general manager.

Chris Ballard appears to be the leading candidate to replace Mark Dominik, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Ballard is director of player personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs.

But Ballard has deep ties to Smith. They worked together in Chicago. Prior to joining the Chiefs in 2013, Ballard spent 12 years with the Bears. He spent 11 seasons as a regional scout before ascending to director of pro scouting in 2012.

Ballard might not be the biggest name out there, and he’s never been a general manager before. But he could have one big advantage. That’s his relationship with Smith.