Lions, Patriots' Quinn reach deal to become new GM
The Detroit Lions found a man to run their personnel department with 16 years of experience in one of the NFL's top franchises.
The team agreed in principle to hire Bob Quinn, who was most recently the director of scouting for the New England Patriots, as their new general manager.
Team president Rod Wood made the announcement in a team statement Friday evening, confirming ESPN’s initial report. Wood said last Sunday the Lions wanted to hire a GM as soon as possible, and the team found its top choice in less than a week.
"We are thrilled to have agreed to a deal with Bob to make him our new general manager,” Wood said in a statement released Friday night. "As (owner) Mrs. (Martha Firestone) Ford indicated at the outset, our search would be national in scope, and we would do everything possible to identify the very best person to lead our football operation. We believe Bob is that person."
Quinn, 39, was among the four candidates the Lions planned to interview in their search, which was led by former NFL GM Ernie Accorsi. The Lions plucked their GM from the best team in the NFL over the past two decades, finding a man with experience in pro and college scouting.
"Ernie proved to be a tremendous resource and his experience and expertise were invaluable," Wood said in the statement.
Quinn will report to Wood and Firestone Ford.
Among the first orders of business will be a decision on the future of coach Jim Caldwell, who has two years remaining on the contract he signed in 2014. At 18-14, Caldwell won more games than any Lions coach in his first two seasons, but a 1-7 start this season put his job in jeopardy, though a 6-2 closing stretch might’ve helped.
If the Lions fire Caldwell, a popular name linked to the job will be Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach. New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia could be a candidate, too.
Although there has been speculation about the Lions being unable to find a suitable replacement for Caldwell, none of the coaching candidates on playoff teams that play this week, including Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, have been allowed to interview for vacancies yet.
Quinn also will have to decide how he wants to build his scouting department. Sheldon White and Brian Xanders, two of the Lions top personnel executives, are well respected and experienced, so perhaps they’ll have a chance to help with Quinn with the transition.
The Lions also promoted Lance Newmark to director of college scouting last May. Former GM Martin Mayhew, who held the position from 2008 until November, planned to have Newmark set the team’s draft board for the first time in 2016.
Although Quinn could make sweeping changes to the scouting department, scout contracts typically don’t expire until May, so there’s a chance the Lions’ scouts will stay through the draft with Quinn leaning on the evaluations they’ve worked on over the past year.
Quinn has worked for the New England’s personnel department since 2000, and the Patriots have won four Super Bowls since his hire. He started as a player personnel assistant. From 2002-03, he worked as a pro scout and then was a regional scout from 2004-07. Then, the Patriots promoted him to national scout in 2008.
Quinn continued climbing the ladder in the organization, becoming the assistant director of pro director of pro personnel from 2009-11. In 2012, the team promoted him to director of pro scouting.
Although coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio are the top personnel men for the Patriots, Quinn has been one of their top resources.
“Bob has done a good job, been with us for a long time, and has had a number of different responsibilities in the scouting department,” Belichick told reporters this week, via the Boston Globe. “He’s done a real solid job.”
White, the Lions interim GM, was reportedly set to interview Friday, according to ESPN. Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner, and Giants assistant GM Kevin Abrams were the other candidates with which the Lions reportedly scheduled interviews, though it’s unclear if the team actually interviewed all three of the other candidates.
Outside of White, who’s worked for the Lions since 1997, the candidates the Lions planned to interview all had experience working for a Super Bowl champion.
“One of the big things the consultants like to see is a winning track record,” said Dan Hatman, a former NFL scout who’s now the director of The Scouting Academy. “And for a first-time GM... you go to a winning organization, the assumption being if you’re a part of a Super Bowl champion, you have seen an organization execute at a top level. You’ve probably seen good practices, you’ll know some good people (and) you’ll be better positioned to make those decisions than someone else would.”
Quinn grew up in Norwood, Mass. and attended Norwood High. He then went to UConn, graduating in 1998 before earning a master’s degree in sports management in 2000. He also worked as a graduate assistant for the Huskies football team in 1998-99.
Quinn and his wife, Julie, have a son and a daughter.
Gil Brandt, the former longtime personnel executive for the Dallas Cowboys, compared Quinn to Secretariat in discussing candidates with The Detroit News in November.
“Bob Quinn's going to make an excellent GM for the Lions,” Brandt tweeted Friday. “I'm a big fan of this very smart man.”