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Panthers add two more candidates to general manager interview list


CHARLOTTE – The Panthers pushed their list of interviews for their general manager vacancy to 15 on Monday, and they're close to making a decision.

The team met with Seahawks vice president of football operations Scott Fitterer and Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan on Monday, the 14th and 15th names to interview over the past eight days.

Fitterer has been with the Seahawks since 2001, and effectively operates as a co-assistant GM under John Schneider there. Khan has a background with Panthers owner David Tepper from his days as a Steelers minority owner.

A hire is expected this week.

Monday's interviews followed 13 in a hectic first week of the search, with a pair of in-house candidates Friday -- director of player negotiations and salary cap manager Samir Suleiman and director of player personnel Pat Stewart.

Both joined the team last year.

Suleiman came to the Panthers from the Steelers (where he was familiar with Tepper as well). He has also worked for the Rams and Jaguars, in addition to a stint with the league's Management Council.

Before last season, Stewart spent two years with the Eagles and 11 with the Patriots. He worked with Panthers head coach Matt Rhule at two stops in college (Western Carolina and Temple).

On Thursday, the Panthers interviewed Kansas City director of football administration Brandt Tilis, and Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly.

Tilis comes from a caps-and-contracts background, and has been with the Super Bowl champions since 2010.

Kelly, a former player at Kentucky, has spent most of his career on the league's pro scouting side, though he's also been an agent and the GM of an indoor football team.

The Panthers interviewed three candidates for the vacancy Wednesday, a group that skewed younger as they look for a personnel executive to pair with Rhule.

They interviewed Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters and Chiefs assistant director of player personnel Ryan Poles.

Dodds went to Indianapolis with GM Chris Ballard in 2017, after a long run with the Seahawks, but Dodds has since withdrawn his name from consideration.

Peters actually played for Rhule, as the Panthers coach was his position coach at UCLA. Peters has worked for the Patriots, Broncos, and 49ers, and was with Denver for the 2015 Super Bowl run.

Poles has an NFC South tie, as he blocked for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan when he played at Boston College, before joining the Chiefs in 2009 and climbing the scouting ladder.

Those three came after they interviewed four Tuesday, including Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio (since hired by the Texans), Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen, Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, and Saints assistant GM and college scouting director Jeff Ireland.

Along with Monday's interviews of Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and former Giants GM Jerry Reese, the Panthers have put together an extremely diverse list of candidates.

So far, they've talked to candidates with long resumes, and unconventional ones, and everything in between.

The 57-year-old Reese helped the Giants win a pair of Super Bowls as GM, while the 39-year-old Adofo-Mensah is a Princeton and Stanford-educated former Wall Street trader, who brings a new perspective at a time when Tepper has talked about modernizing the football operation.

Tuesday's interviews had a significant New England vibe, as Caserio has been Bill Belichick's top lieutenant, and Ossenfort spent 15 years there before joining a group of expats (and ex-Pats) in Tennessee last offseason.

The other two have connections here, as Ireland's a former Baylor player (though not when Rhule was there), and Schoen began his NFL journey as an intern with the Panthers before rising through the scouting ranks.

Below are profiles of the 13 remaining candidates, in alphabetical order:

GM-Infographic-16x9-adofo (2)
2020-GM-TrackerV2GM-Infographic-16x9-Scott Fitterer
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Jeff Ireland
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Champ Kelly
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Adam Peters
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Ryan Poles
GM-Infographic-16x9-reese (2)
2020-GM-Tracker.psdGM-Infographic-16x9-Joe Schoen
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Pat Stewart
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Samir Suleiman
2020-GM-TrackerGM-Infographic-16x9-Brandt Tilis

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