Clayton: The most important, least heralded members of the Seahawks’ front office
Scott Fitterer, the Seahawks’ co-director of player personnel, recently interviewed for the Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager job.
The Chiefs last Friday parted way with GM John Dorsey, who was entering the final year of his contract. The news was stunning. Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid rebuilt a Kansas City team that was the worst in football in 2012. The Chiefs made three trips to the playoffs in four years and are considered a playoff contender this season.
Reid received a five-year contract extension last week. Dorsey was let go.
When a move like that happens this late in the offseason, it causes some concern for the good front offices. Contending teams have strong personnel people helping the general managers and the head coaches find talented players. With five consecutive trips to the divisional rounds of the playoffs or further, it’s pretty clear the Seahawks have a good team of personnel people. It’s also pretty clear when GM jobs open, teams are making calls to the Seahawks to interview some of the top people on their personnel staff.
The Indianapolis Colts took a good one away from the Seahawks when they hired Ed Dodds as vice president of player personnel. Dodds spent 10 seasons with the Seahawks. His job was to evaluate pro and college players and make recommendations.
To the fans, these guys are only names, but let’s take a closer look at them.
Fitterer shares the title of Seattle’s co-director of player personnel with Trent Kirchner. Fitterer has worked for the Seahawks since 2001, when he joined the team as an area scout. Kirschner got his start with the Seahawks as a public relations intern in 2000 and spent time with the personnel staffs of the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers before the Seahawks got him back in 2010.
Of the two, Kirchner has had the most interviews for GM openings. It’s understandable with his track record of being creative in scouting and an incredibly hard worker.
When Kirchner was in Seattle’s pro scouting department, he made suggestions on trades that netted Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch. He was involved in the 2013 free-agent signings of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. He closely follows the Arena Football League and the CFL looking for hidden gems. He does what’s known as advanced scouting, traveling to watch the Seahawks’ next opponent and putting together scouting reports for the coaching staff.
Fitterer’s background has been more in college scouting. His input helps Seahawks GM John Schneider determine the team’s ratings of college draft prospects. That has helped Schneider have enough of a feel for the draft board to make several trades down, which has allowed the Seahawks to average more than 10 draft choices a year.
One of the keys to this year’s draft was identifying defensive tackle Malik McDowell as their first choice and trade down several times to turn seven picks into 11 selections.
Dan Morgan is the Seahawks’ director of pro personnel. His reputation continues to grow around the NFL; don’t be surprised if he starts getting interviews over the next few years. A Pro Bowl linebacker for the Panthers in the 2000s, Morgan is entering his seventh season with the Seahawks. Schneider leaned on him heavily this offseason, and the Seahawks had their most active free-agent period under Schneider, loading up on veterans with one-year contracts.
The feeling around the NFL is the Chiefs might hire from within the organization to replace Dorsey. Don’t be surprised if he lands with the Seahawks in some capacity. He’s good friends with Schneider along with Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. With the Chiefs paying him for the 2017 season, Dorsey would be a bargain to any team wanting to add him.
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