Potential candidates to know for Jags’ GM vacancy: Joe Hortiz

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James Johnson
·5 min read
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The Jacksonville Jaguars parted ways with longtime general manager Dave Caldwell last month, who had been with the team since 2013. With his spot now available (Trent Baalke is serving as the interim), the Jags are one of many teams who’ve fired their general manager during the 2020 season and will be looking for new leadership.

With some valuable assets like cap space and 11 draft picks in 2021 (including the first overall selection), the Jags are on track to probably be the most desirable vacancy in the NFL. In fact, they couldn’t have chosen a better time to have such an abundance of riches as there are several great general manager candidates to choose from.

Of course, one game remains before the Jags can begin casting a full net for their opening, so it will be a while before a decision is made (around late January). While they can’t interview executives who are currently working for one of the league’s other teams until after the season, they’ve utilized their time wisely interviewing people outside of the league. That includes ESPN’s Louis Riddick, former Houston Texans executive Rick Smith and former New York Giants executive Jerry Reese.

Earlier in the month, we started our general manager candidate profiles with Indianapolis Colts assistant Ed Dodds. Now, we’ll look at another candidate who has been a part of a winning franchise: Baltimore Ravens Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz.

Background

The first takeaway that will stick out about Hortiz’s career is that he’s been with the Ravens for all of his time in the NFL. He joined the organization roughly 22 years ago in 1998 as a personnel assistant and held the title to 2000. Afterward, he was the team’s collegiate Northeast area scout from 2001-02 and their Southeast area scout from 2003-05 before becoming a national scout in 2006-08. In 2009, he was promoted to Director of College Scouting and held that title until May of last year, when he was promoted to his current title.

Why Hortiz is a good choice?

Well, everyone that knows the game of football knows that the Ravens are a world-class organization, and their front office is arguably the best to do it. Throughout his whole tenure with the Ravens, Hortiz has worked alongside and under former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who is one of the best executives in NFL history. He also worked alongside and under Newsome’s right-hand man and current general manager Eric DeCosta for his whole career, who is one of the league’s top general managers.

While Hortiz was director of college scouting, the Ravens selected many of the stars fans have come to recognize on the team like quarterback Lamar Jackson, tackle Orlando Brown Jr., left tackle Ronnie Stanley, tight end Mark Andrews, and cornerback Jimmy Smith, to name a few. During his full tenure with the Ravens, he’s been a part of a front office that selected Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, defensive end Terrell Suggs, nose tackle Haloti Ngata, and quarterback Joe Flacco among notables.

If that wasn’t enough, Hortiz has also been a part of the Ravens organization while they’ve won both of their Super Bowl titles in 2001 and 2013. That alone should intrigue Jags owner Shad Khan as the Ravens have been as good of a blueprint as you can find in terms of building a world-class NFL team.

What direction could Hortiz go in terms of a head coach?

Two head coaching candidate names come to mind due to their connection with the Ravens organization. Those names are offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Don Martindale.

Of the two, Martindale may be the one to pay the most attention to as he’s been in the Ravens organization since 2012 when he was their linebackers coach. Eventually, in 2017, he was promoted to defensive coordinator and has held the title since.

Martindale has already garnered the attention of teams after interviewing with the New York Giants earlier this year. He was deemed an under-the-radar candidate for this season by “Good Morning Football’s” Peter Schrager last week, and many teams have/will likely reach out to him in the coming weeks.

Roman is a popular name, dating back to when the Jags were looking for a head coach in 2013 when they hired Gus Bradley. Over time, he’s become known for his work with Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick while with the San Francisco 49ers and his work with John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson while with the Ravens.

Roman has often thrived off having a solid run game, and with the Jags having James Robinson, they could appeal to him. However, the best chance the Jags had to get him was when Caldwell was their general manager as the two were college roommates at John Carroll University.

Another name that may appeal to Hortiz is Joe Brady, who is currently the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. The reason for that is because Hortiz has praised Louisiana State’s football program in the past, which was where Brady came from before entering the league.

The one issue many will have with Brady is that he’s extremely young at just 31-years-of-age. However, he had a little NFL experience on his resume before joining the Panthers as he spent two seasons as an offensive assistant for Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints (2017-18).

With Brady not that far removed from the college ranks where he was a passing game coordinator for Joe Burrow, Hortiz and ownership could view him as the perfect pairing for Trevor Lawrence if he declares for the draft.