The Chargers completed their second-most anticipated search of the offseason, hiring Joe Hortiz, the Baltimore Ravens’ director of player personnel, as their new general manager, the team announced Tuesday morning.
Hortiz landed the job after being interviewed a second time by the Chargers on Friday. He worked closely in Baltimore with coach John Harbaugh as the Ravens won two AFC North titles and went to the playoffs four times in his five-year stint as player personnel director.
Hortiz, 48, and coach Jim Harbaugh are expected to be formally introduced by the Chargers during a news conference Thursday.
"When you've had the privilege of working with one organization your entire career, something that's exceedingly rare in our business, the opportunity and fit has to pretty much be perfect to consider a change," Hortiz said in a statement. "This is that opportunity ... it's all there. Then of course, having known the Harbaugh family for all these years and the chance to continue that special relationship in this new role, I truly could not be more fortunate."
The hirings end a search that began Dec. 15 when the team fired general manager Tom Telesco and coach Brandon Staley a day after an ugly, 63-21 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chargers went on to finish the season 5-12 and last in the AFC West.
Hortiz had been with the Ravens since 1998, joining the franchise as a personal assistant before working as a scout (and winning Super Bowls in 2000 and 2012) under then-general manager Ozzie Newsome.
"Joe is one of the most respected player evaluators and personnel minds in the league whose contributions to the Ravens front office over the past two decades cannot be overstated," Chargers president of football operations John Spanos said in a statement.
Getting under the projected salary cap for 2024 will be among the priorities for Hortiz as the Chargers enter the Harbaugh era in search of the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. The top-heavy roster is more than $40 million over the projected cap, according to Overthecap.com, meaning significant changes could be coming.
Many of the anticipated personnel changes could target a defense that ranked 28th in yards allowed per game (362.9) and 24th in points allowed per game (23.4). Outside of Khalil Mack's resurgent, 17-sack campaign and Tuli Tuipulotu's strong rookie season, it was mostly a season to forget for the Chargers defense. Injuries once again robbed Joey Bosa of a full season, Davis' coverage woes were on frequent display, and even the typically impeccable Derwin James Jr. made mistakes.
Finding the next generation of offensive tools to help Justin Herbert succeed also will be a priority for Hortiz. First-round pick Quentin Johnston struggled to make an impact in the passing game despite seeing the second-most targets last season behind perennial top playmaker Keenan Allen. With Everett in danger of being a potential cap casualty and Mike Williams and Allen each entering contract years, Hortiz might have to go back to the draft to find help for Herbert in the passing game.
Hortiz was one of several candidates the Chargers interviewed for their general manager job. Brandon Brown (Giants assistant GM) got two interviews and reportedly was a finalist for the job. JoJo Wooden (Chargers interim GM), Ian Cunningham (Bears assistant GM), Terrance Gray (Bills assistant director of player personnel), Jeff Ireland (Saints assistant GM), Ed Dodds (Colts assistant GM), Jeff Kings (Bears co-director of player personnel) and Dawn Aponte (chief administrator of football operations for the NFL) each interviewed once.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.