4 Los Angeles Chargers General Manager Candidates, Including Cowboys’ Will McClay

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers fired head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco in December, ushering in a new era for the franchise. After a decade under Telesco’s reign, it’s time to value Chargers general manager candidates who could build a brighter future for Los Angeles.

While the Chargers have a phenomenal building block in quarterback Justin Herbert, that’s one of the few appealing things about this job for a head coach or general manager. The Spanos family has earned its reputation around the NFL for being cheap and at a time when teams are spending more than ever, any architect of a roster could be at a disadvantage in Los Angeles.

Related: 5 offseason moves the Los Angeles Chargers should make

Of course, there are only 32 GM jobs across the NFL and very few become available each year. Los Angeles still has plenty to offer and depending on who is hired as head coach, getting the GM right will also be critical. With that in mind, let’s examine some Chargers general manager candidates.

Top Los Angeles Chargers general manager candidates

JoJo Wooden, Los Angeles Chargers interim general manager

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers Rookie Minicamp
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There’s a strong case to be made for Los Angeles not to keep JoJo Wooden around in 2024. He joined the organization at the same time as Telesco, serving as director of player personnel and serving as the right-hand man to the Chargers’ general manager. If the franchise wants to completely reset things, then Wooden will be let go once the season ends.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers coaching candidates

However, Wooden also spent more than a decade with the New York Jets. He worked his way up from a personnel assistant (1997-’98) to pro scout (1999-2000) before climbing the ladder every few years, eventually taking over as assistant director of player personnel (2007-’12). Keep in mind that from 1998-2010, the Jets reached the AFC Championship Game three times and made the playoffs seven times.

Wooden is an expert on the Chargers’ roster, offering an understanding of what players are worth keeping and who Los Angeles should move on from in 2024. It’s also important to consider that Wooden is a viable GM candidate outside of Los Angeles and if the Chargers lose him to another team, it could be a mark on ownership’s hiring process years from now.

Will McClay, Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers
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If we’re choosing a name from our top Chargers general manager candidates, Dallas Cowboys executive Will McClay is the first person we’d pursue. Jerry Jones gets all the credit in Texas, but Dallas doesn’t have one of the best rosters in the NFL without McClay.

McClay joined the Cowboys’ organization in 2003 as a pro scout, holding that position until he was promoted to pro scouting director in 2009. The Rice alum was promoted again in 2011 (director of football research) then in 2014 (assistant director of player personnel) and 2015 (senior director of pro/college scouting) before taking on his existing title in 2017.

“I don’t want anybody to know bout Will. I’m teasing but I’m not teasing. He’s very unique and he has great people skills. And I mean they work for Will — those scouts, and that’s a management job, those scouts on the road. . . . Will’s got a big job. He’s got a big job of managing — and I mean managing, because they are on the road most of the time, those guys who are there. Outstanding, best group I’ve ever been associated with in 30 years.”

Jerry Jones on Will McClay

Jones knows McClay deserves to be an NFL general manager, but there’s no more room for growth in Dallas. McClay played a crucial role in identifying talents like tight end Jake Ferguson, cornerback DaRon Bland, quarterback Dak Prescott, and cornerback Trevon Diggs. Combining his eye for talent with his communication and leadership, you have all the making of a great general manager.

Joe Hortiz, Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints
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When you’re looking for a general manager, always target the teams with some of the most well-rounded rosters in football. The Baltimore Ravens are more than just Lamar Jackson, they have one of the NFL’s best defenses, a quality offensive line and they find gems on Day 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft.

Related: Los Angeles Chargers draft picks 2024

That’s one of the biggest reasons we’re highlighting Joe Hortiz. He’s been in Baltimore for nearly three decades and he’s largely been on the college side, scouting the very same players who became perennial Pro Bowl selections. For a team like the Chargers, which has made a lot of mistakes in the draft and especially with its decision-making on spending, Hortiz can be a franchise-changing hire.

Hortiz’s ability to overhaul this team on both sides of the ball, even with salary cap issues, isn’t the only reason he’s listed among our top Chargers coaching candidates. He also brings media savvy, doing breakdown videos on NFL Draft prospects and analyzing draft classes. With GMs required to meet with the media more than ever before, Hortiz’s comfort in this area is a huge plus for his candidacy.

Adam Peters, San Francisco 49ers assistant general manager

NFL: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers
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If the Chargers want to hire Adam Peters as their next general manager, they need to be prepared for a bidding war. There will be multiple GM vacancies across the NFL this season and Peters will be the executive most in demand for interviews, giving him freedom of choice.

Related: 2024 NFL mock draft

Peters started things out as a regional scout with the Denver Broncos in 2008, earning a promotion to national scout two years later. After covering the nation to scout top prospects for a few years, he was named assistant director of college scouting (2014-’15) then oversaw all college scouting in 2016.

One of the 49ers’ first moves in 2017, after bringing in John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, was hiring Peters. Just as he did in Denver, Peters climbed the executive ladder from vice president of player personnel to assistant general manager, working one-on-one with Shanahan and Lynch to build the best roster in the league.

Much like our other top Chargers general manager candidates, Peters’ background as a talent evaluator features big hits in the mid-rounds. Brock Purdy (262n overall), Talanoa Hufanga (180th overall), Elijah Mitchell (194th overall), Jauan Jennings (217th overall) and Dre Greenlaw (148th overall) have all been impact players. With the lack of depth on the Chargers’ roster, Peters is needed in Los Angeles.