Jim Popp passed over by Carolina Panthers: does that mean he’ll be back in Montreal?

The Carolina Panthers' decision to hire Dave Gettleman as their new general manager could have significant implications north of the border. Montreal Alouettes' general manager Jim Popp interviewed for that job, so Wednesday's news that he didn't get it probably caused some relieved exhaling in Quebec. That also removes one potential destination for Alouettes' coach Marc Trestman (if Popp had been hired in Carolina, it's conceivable he might have replaced incumbent coach Ron Rivera with Trestman), although he's still in the running for jobs in Chicago and Cleveland. Most importantly for Montreal fans, though, Carolina was the only NFL job Popp was strongly linked to this offseason.  There are still plenty of openings at general manager around the NFL, and Popp could potentially be considered for one of those given the interest he's drawn from the Colts and the Panthers, but it's starting to look more and more likely that he'll still be running the Alouettes this coming season.

That's tremendously good news for Montreal fans, as Popp has been the architect of so much of the franchise's success. He's been with the franchise since the Baltimore days, and his teams have won four Grey Cups (one in Baltimore, three in Montreal) while appearing in 10 title games. The Alouettes have dominated the East Division for much of the last decade, and Popp's played a crucial role in that; he's demonstrated a knack for acquiring talent undervalued elsewhere (like pro football career passing leader Anthony Calvillo, who struggled in Hamilton before signing as a free agent with Montreal in 1998), stockpiling remarkable depth at key positions (running backs Avon Cobourne and Brandon Whitaker are particularly good examples of this), finding top non-import talent (see Shea Emry, Ben Cahoon, the entire offensive line and more) and grabbing import players with superstar capabilities (such as Jamel Richardson and S.J. Green). While there are other talented people in Montreal's personnel office, such as Ottawa GM candidate Marcel Desjardins, and while coaches like Trestman and players like Calvillo have played huge roles of their own in the Alouettes' success, Popp deserves much of the credit for the Montreal dynasty.

Don't presume that it's going to be business as usual in Montreal just yet, though. Trestman is still a serious candidate for at least those two NFL head-coaching jobs, and he potentially could consider taking an NFL offensive coordinator job if he doesn't receive a head job this offseason. (That would be more of a lateral move, but it might provide a clearer path towards a head job.) It's also possible that Popp may be in play as a GM in other NFL cities where that just hasn't been reported yet. If he wants an NFL GM job badly enough, he might also consider taking an NFL assistant general manager position, as that would likely enhance his chances of landing a general manager's job next offseason. Still, the probability that Popp's going to still be running the Alouettes in 2013 rose substantially Wednesday, and that's excellent news for Montreal fans.

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