The Chargers are going for a synergistic approach regarding their quarterback, head coach, and general manager.
Los Angeles already had Justin Herbert on the roster and hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach last week. On Monday, the team announced they’d added another J.H. to the organization chart, hiring Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz as general manager.
Those reading the tea leaves likely saw this coming. Ed Dodds and Ian Cunningham, considered the favorites at the beginning of the search, were phased out for finalists Brandon Brown and Hortiz. But Brown was spotted in Frisco, TX, interviewing players with the Giants as recently as Sunday, suggesting that the Chargers may have informed him they were moving in a different direction. That same day, Ravens reporter Jeff Zrebiec noted that Hortiz and Harbaugh had a discussion on the sidelines before Baltimore’s AFC Championship loss to Kansas City.
Hortiz has worked in Baltimore since 1998, when he began his career as an area scout. He was promoted to national scout in 2006, director of college scouting in 2009, and director of player personnel in 2019. Widely regarded as one of the best eyes for talent in the college ranks, the Delaware native was the runner-up in the Giants general manager search that concluded with the hire of Joe Schoen in 2022.
During his career under legendary GM Ozzie Newsome and his successor, current Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta, the Ravens have consistently drafted well, especially at the top. Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs were back-to-back first-round picks in 2002 and 2003. 2006 first-rounder Haloti Ngata and sixth-rounder Sam Koch lasted 25 seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens also found mid-round talent like Marshal Yanda, Pernell McPhee, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Jensen, Kyle Juszczyk, Za’Darius Smith, Darren Waller, Matt Judon, Chuck Clark, Mark Andrews, Zach Sieler, and Isaiah Likely throughout Hortiz’s tenure.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Jim’s older brother, also named Hortiz as one of the reasons the organization traded for All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith last season:
“Our scouts do a great job. I think of [director of player personnel] Joe Hortiz going back and scouting Roquan [Smith] back at Georgia. Those are all in the reports. You knew what kind of a guy you were getting, for sure.”
With the Chargers, Hortiz will likely remain in a similar role as he had in Baltimore, but with a wieldier title and hefty pay raise. Jim Harbaugh will probably serve as de facto general manager, maintaining the final say over personnel, while Hortiz will be the “second-in-command.” The familiarity with the Harbaugh family from working with John in Baltimore for over a decade was undoubtedly an attractive aspect of Hortiz’s candidacy, especially if he signed off on ceding some of the control typical of an NFL GM.
Regardless of title or role behind the curtain, Hortiz’s background as a proven talent evaluator with experience around some of the best front-office personnel in the history of the game is impossible to ignore. Even if his job as general manager is to take a deep dive into the college ranks every season and help Harbaugh build his vision for the roster through the draft, adding the 48-year-old Auburn grad should be seen as a tremendous victory for the Chargers.