4 NFL General Managers Who Can't Afford to Botch 2014 Draft
The NFL front office is not much different than the locker room in some ways. Usually, just because you've had past success as an NFL executive does not mean you are guaranteed a longer period of stay. It's a "what have you done for me lately" league, and fans will always want someone held accountable.
A lot of NFL general managers have already been axed this offseason. The Browns, Buccaneers and Dolphins were all teams that ousted their GMs after underwhelming seasons. Who might be on a tight leash in 2014?
Again, just because you've had success in previous seasons does not mean you are guaranteed job security for years to come. These four NFL GMs will likely feel the heat in 2014 if their teams do not show improvement.
1. Ray Farmer (Cleveland Browns)
I'm not kidding, I think Ray Farmer is already on the hot seat despite holding the job for only four days.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam seems anything but patient. He allowed Rob Chudzinski to be fired after just one season (and a season marred with injuriesm too). And after putting CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi in charge of the new head coach hunt, he ended up firing both Banner and Lombardi as well.
Farmer may be the man for now, but for how long? The Browns seem more concerned with pointing fingers than committing to a long-term rebuilding process.
A 4-12 record lost Lombardi his job, even though he only had one season and he helped pull off the ingenious Trent Richardson trade.
What if the Browns finish below six wins again next season? Can Haslam wait more than one season for success?
2. Jerry Reese (New York Giants)
It's hard to imagine Jerry Reese going anywhere. He was instrumental to the Giants' 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl runs and was widely considered one of the greatest GMs in the league during that stretch.
But a 7-9 finish forces us to backtrack a bit. Sure, Reese has helped the Giants win Super Bowls. But he's also part of the reason they've been unable to return to the postseason since 2011.
Despite the linebacker corps being one of the team's weakness in years past, Reese chose not to focus on the position in the 2013 draft. After the injury to Andre Brown, the Giants had no suitable backup to fill in for him at running back. And contract structures made it difficult to stay well under the salary cap for big free-agent hires.
At the beginning of the season, Reese said that despite past success, "We're all on the hot seat," according to the New York Daily News. Expectations in the NFL and in New York City are just that high.
If the Giants miss the postseason for a third straight season, or finish below .500 again, would Reese be able to keep his job?
3. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings)
With head coach Leslie Frazier now out of the equation, all eyes will turn to GM Rick Spielman to see if he can right the ship.
And if the Vikings don't start showing some improvement, Spielman could be running out of chances.
The biggest criticism that Spielman has had to deal with was his inability to address the quarterback position. According to Brian Hall of Fox Sports, Spielman had a large role in the team reaching for Christian Ponder in 2011. And in one of Frazier's late-season press conferences, he took one final shot at Spielman, stating that he was doing all he could with the talent he was given, referring to the QB position.
Ponder didn't work out, and the decision to suddenly acquire and start Josh Freeman five weeks into the season was puzzling. Adrian Peterson is running out of time, and if Spielman can't build a playoff contender by the time he starts declining, questions will arise as to why Peterson was not dealt when he still had value.
The Vikings must show some improvement. If not, whoever handles player personnel will be held accountable.
4. Ruston Webster (Tennessee Titans)
Ruston Webster may be just one bad season away from being ousted from Nashville. According to Pro Football Talk, an NFL insider in December stated that Webster's chances of staying were 50-50.
Obviously, Webster was retained and head coach Mike Munchak was fired. But the Titans have not made the postseason since 2008.
And despite having one of the NFL's most talented players in Chris Johnson, the Titans have failed to build a playoff team. If the mediocre play continues, Webster could be feeling the heat in 2014.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo