Top 5 Candidates to Replace A.J. Smith with Chargers GM and Coach Reportedly Out

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

Top 5 Candidates to Replace A.J. Smith with Chargers GM and Coach Reportedly Out

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    The San Diego Chargers are once again a disappointment and president Dean Spanos has seen enough, as Norv Turner and A.J. Smith are reportedly likely going to be fired after the season. 

    The important question is, who is going to take over at general manager with A.J. Smith getting the boot once the season concludes? 

    As reported by Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego, sources claimedTurner and Smith will be shown the door. It's not a surprising move considering the duo's inability to take the franchise to the next level over the past few years. 

    Spanos now has a serious issue to face this offseason if the reports are true. Not only does he have to find a coach, he has to find a GM that can effectively build a sound roster to give to said coach. 

    There are some in-house candidates Spanos could turn to, but there's some other options he should consider as well. Let's break down some of the top candidates to take over as Chargers GM.

5. Chris Mara

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    Chris Mara isn't the biggest name in the industry, but he currently resides on the excellent New York Giants staff under general manager Jerry Reese. 

    To be specific, Mara is currently the senior vice president of player personnel. He's teamed with Reese in crafting a Super Bowl-caliber roster in the past and has all the traits that the San Diego Chargers would need from a general manager. 

    Luring Mara from the Giants wouldn't be an easy task, but it's certainly one Spanos should look into doing. Mara has it all and could immediately begin building an elite roster for a new head coach to take over and control. 

4. Kevin Abrams

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    Kevin Abrams is another man currently residing under Jerry Reese in New York. With the quality the staff has produced over the past number of years, most men under Reese have to be considered for general manager positions at this point. 

    Abrams is the assistant general manager directly under Reese for the Giants. Not only has he had his hand in every personnel decision for years, he's been directly learning from Reese and is more than likely more than ready to take on the lead role. 

    Abrams is a man who would also be hard to get, but he would jump at the opportunity to be the lead man. He's earned it, having helped draft players such as Jason Pierre-Paul. Spanos has to consider wooing Abrams, at the very least.  

3. Tom Gamble

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    Tom Gamble is an upstart name in the discussion for general manager positions around the NFL. He currently acts as the director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers

    What makes Gamble so appealing is his experience at both the collegiate and professional levels. Gamble worked several years under the Indianapolis Colts' Bill Polian and has had his hand in a variety of playoff teams over the years. 

    Gamble has experience with the contract side of things in the NFL as well, so he'd make the perfect GM for many NFL teams. He's responsible for players like NaVorro Bowman, meaning he's one of the best at what he does. If he's not on the Chargers' radar, Spanos isn't doing his job correctly. 

2. John Spanos

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    If all else fails and Spanos has issues finding a suitable candidate for the general manager position, he can turn both in-house and within his family. 

    That appears to be what Spanos had in mind already, as Kevin Acee reports that the younger Spanos, John, was set to take things over after A.J. Smith's contract ran out anyway:

    The younger Spanos, currently the team’s Director of College Scouting, has long been in line to take over the Chargers’ football operations, but the plan was for that to not happen until the expiration of Smith’s contract after the 2014 season.

    With Smith potentially failing to play out the remainder of his contract due to mediocrity, it appears the timetable for the younger Spanos to move up could be accelerated. It's a big promotion, but one the Chargers may have to make. 

1. Jimmy Raye

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    At the end of the day, Spanos may elect to keep his job search in-house and promote the Chargers' director of player personnel, Jimmy Raye. 

    Raye has years of experience on the job and has reportedly not seen eye to eye recently with A.J. Smith (h/t U-T San Diego):

    People familiar with the discussions say Raye has occasionally dissented in personnel matters over the years. Perhaps most notably, Raye preferred drafting inside linebacker David Harris over Buster Davis in 2007. Davis, drafted 30th by the Chargers, was limited by injury to two starts and is now out of the league. Harris was taken by the New York Jets with the 47th overall selection, and has started 80 games. He was an All-Pro in 2009.

    This is good news for the Chargers faithful is what Smith was doing in the past didn't exactly produce a championship-caliber squad. Smith seems to have a better idea in that regard, and his familiarity with the organization already gives him an inside track at the promotion.