The 3 Most Likely Candidates to Replace AJ Smith as Chargers GM

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The 3 Most Likely Candidates to Replace AJ Smith as Chargers GM
h/t Chargers.com

The A.J. Smith era is officially over in San Diego, so where do the Chargers go from here?

The Chargers weren't the only team making big changes on Black Monday in the NFL. Nine teams fired either a head coach, general manager or both. 

This makes finding the next Chargers general manager an interesting, if not frantic, exercise for the Spanos family.

The franchise is well aware of the complications this search entails, so it has taken a proactive step to make the transition as amenable as possible. 

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter:

 

So, which men look to be the right ones for the job?

 

Jimmy Raye

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that A.J. Smith and Norv Turner would be fired back in the first week of December—a report the Spanos family vehemently denied. 

What can't be denied at this juncture is that Acee had his fact straight. Therefore it seems likely that he may have been on to something when he reported that Jimmy Raye would become the team's next general manager.

Raye has been the team's Director of Player Personnel, and it seems like a logical next step for the team to promote him into Smith's old position. Acee also reported that John Spanos would become Raye's right-hand man—a move that also makes sense from the perspective of owner Dean Spanos

 

Tom Gamble

h/t 49ers.com

Gamble has been with the San Francisco 49ers for the past seven years, and he was prompted to become the team's Director of Player Personnel before the 2011 NFL season. 

The 49ers have built an incredibly strong roster since Gamble's been involved, and he was a pivotal member of the scouting team for the Indianapolis Colts under Bill Polian from 1998-'04 before he landed with the 49ers. 

Gamble's expertise is as a personnel evaluator, and the team that lands him will be getting a man who understands how to build and maintain a roster full of well-rounded players. 

He's also one of the hottest names in the NFL for one of the many new general manager openings around the league. The New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars have already asked permission to interview Gamble, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter (via PFT), but the Chargers may be a more attractive landing spot. 

 

Omar Khan

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers would love to hide Khan in a coat closet somewhere so nobody can find him, but the NFL is well aware of his talents. It's not likely that Khan will forever live in the shadows in Pittsburgh, and I won't be shocked if the Chargers make a strong push for him this winter.

CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, a man who knows more about the ins and outs of the NFL than most of us put together, had this to say about Khan in a recent article:

He's helped the small-market team engineer strong contracts, manage the salary cap, cultivate relationships with agents and rival execs around the league and is thought of highly on all fronts.

People tell me Khan is a quick study, very insightful, but also smart enough to know what he doesn't know, not threatened by those with a deep scouting background, understanding the importance of hiring independent thinkers to help run personnel and not yes-men. 

If the Chargers decide to overlook Raye, Khan seems like the perfect man for the team's vacant general manager position. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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