The path to being an NFL executive isn't usually easy or short. Typically a guy starts out as a low level scout, spends years toiling around the country looking at college prospects. Slowly he'll move up the ranks, probably move around amongst a few teams before he finally one day, if he's proven himself and gotten some luck, get hired as a GM. From there, he gets maybe 4-5 years to build a perennial winner. If not, he gets fired. If he does build a winner, it may take 10 years for him to get canned.
But eventually, that's pretty much what happens. Then, he's seen as old and unattractive. Teams want the next big thing, the unproven assistant, the guy that will lead their organization for 15 years (despite the fact that this more or less never happens.)
The thing is, this ex GM now has 25-30 years of NFL experience and knowledge that's not going to use. These guys are still valuable to an organization, a point that the Eagles have realized. During Howie Roseman's tenure, they've hired ex GMs or pro personnel guys like Phil Savage from the Browns, Bobby DePaul from the Bears and Rick Mueller from the Saints. Most recently, they hired Tom Donahoe, who was a GM for both the Steelers and Bills.
The crazy thing is that Donahoe has been out of the game for 6 years. This is a guy with a lifetime of NFL experience who ran teams in this league for 14 years. Howie Roseman told Dan Pompeii that he sees these type of guys playing a valuable role for the Eagles.
"You have talented guys, they fill a role," general manager Howie Roseman told me. "It’s a worthy thing to do for me, because Tom is someone who has had the job before and I can bounce things off of We try to get the best people around, get as many smart opinions as possible, and then make decisions."
Roseman says that guys with this kind of experience in resume are much less likely to be intimidated by the opinions of the higher-ups in the organization or fall victim to groupthink.
"It’s very important we make sure our young scouts know you don’t always have to agree with everything everyone says, but the worst thing you can do is change your opinion to one that’s not yours," Roseman said. "We want people to have different opinions. We say a lot of times in our meeting that if everyone is agreeing, you probably are not making the right decision."