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Green Zone League Articles

State of the League: GM Shuffle Edition
By Greg Wendel
Special to gzl-football.com

This offseason has seen a ton of movement for GZL General Managers. We've seen some beloved GMs leave the league, some old friends return and even cross-team moves from some who seem fully entrenched. There are even some teams that have yet to find a new show-runner.

It can take a bit of mental gymnastics to get around all of these changes so I figured I'd make up a summary of moves so far along with some of the challenges that the new GMs will face in their new posts as the off-season really kicks into gear.

NFC

NFC East - Washington Redskins
Only a couple of years removed from a Super Bowl victory, the Redskins have been in a flux since Kurt Ison's original departure. After a one-and-done season from Michael Brotherton in 2021, Ison made a cameo return for the 2022 season before leaving Dan Snyder once more searching for someone to manage the team's personnel.

Whoever does eventually replaces the former GZL champ will have some great tools to work with while replacing a few key positions and building depth in others.

The continued rebuild of the offensive line is most likely the first priority. While Offensive Tackle Taylor Decker was taken with the 13th overall pick in last year's draft, Sammy Fraser has struggled for the last 2 seasons on the other side. Inside, Mike Pouncey is starting to show his age and Wayne Carlton is not the answer at Right Guard. Halfback is the other big position of need, where the only player on the roster is just roster filler in Dan Dugan.


NFC North - Chicago Bears

The Bears have been one of the perennially successful teams since the inception of the GZL and Bryan Laurensen was the man who oversaw most of that success. He has come and gone a few times though and the most recent hire is Merlin Smith, a familiar name from time with the Colts and Texans in the AFC South.

Smith inherits a more complete roster than many others in the league with weapons all over the field and plenty of talent on both sides of the line. On the other hand, one of the hardest things to do is sustain success and this Bears roster is starting to age in a few key areas, particularly on offense. Smith may need to make a few tough calls to turn the roster over, potentially sacrificing short term success for longer term sustainability. There are also quite a few expired contracts to manage and the $26 million in cap room, while looking like a decent figure, will disappear very quickly.


NFC North - Green Bay Packers

For the first time in GZL history, the Packers will not be run by one Kevin Mullendore. Mullendore's retirement was one of the most disappointing moments of the off-season for many people around the league. The organisation has only had 1 losing season in 13 and doesn't expect anything less than visiting the playoffs no matter who is in charge. Fortunately, Ian Coyle has moved over from the Falcons and is ready to continue the winning tradition.

Fortunately, all of the tools are still in place for continued success. A number of big contracts have expired and it will take some work to stretch the sub $20 million in cap room that the Packers have available, but a few of the older players could be let go if they ask for too much.

Similarly to their divisional rival written about above, the Pack will need to start managing out old veterans while bringing in a fresh wave of talent, but the need isn't quite as dire and can be spread out over the next several seasons. Needless to say, this is a team that is still ready for success and as long as the run game can stay as strong as it has been historically, the franchise is in good shape.


NFC South - Atlanta Falcons

With Coyle moving to Green Bay, Atlanta is another team that has currently been left GM-less. Coyle provided some stability to the Falcons with providing long term goals over 7 years but without much success in a division where the Tampa Bay Bucs have had a stranglehold nearly since the beginning. That doesn't mean that the team is without weapons because there are plenty.

This starts on offense where both the quarterback and running back are former top 10 picks, with the former being a number 1 overall. This is backed up by having talented tackles on either side of the offensive line. Defensively, however, there are still question marks. All three levels of the defense have at least one star player but depth is a particular issue at Cornerback and Defensive Line. Linebacker will be the strength when the Falcons don't have the ball but more help is needed to keep all of the high powered offenses of the GZL in check.


NFC South - New Orleans Saints
The NFC South is the second division we've covered with multiple front office shakeups. While no where near as bad as the AFC East (which we'll cover in the next article), it does mean we'll see some changes. John Stanley helped this team to a very good 11-5 last season before stepping down again, which opened the door for long-time Patriots manager Matty Spencer to step in and try his luck against the Bucs.

Despite last year's record, there is a lot of work to be done for the Saints. A number of important contracts read 0 years left, and New Orleans has upwards of $60 million in cap space to throw at them, plus other players that could improve the team. More than anything, Spencer will need to decide if Jabar Watkins is going to be good enough as the number two Cornerback. Defensive End may be another area where Spencer looks to spend some money or a first round pick, as it's unlikely that Peter Hall-Smiley will provide the pass rushing ability needed from the edge.


AFC Preview
If I get a bit of time, I'll run through the AFC next which is at least as interesting as looking at the NFC teams. The East in particular could be wide open with so many changes taking place and it will be fun to see how it all unfolds!
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