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Raiders go with experience, hire ex-Chargers general manager

Updated January 23, 2024 - 6:52 pm

In deciding on Tom Telesco to head their football operations office, the Raiders are bucking a recent organizational trend of hiring first-time general managers.

Telesco, who spent the past 10 years as general manager of the Chargers, is the first GM to be hired under Raiders owner Mark Davis to have practical experience in that position.

That’s an important distinction to make, given the inexperience of Antonio Pierce, the Raiders’ new head coach.

Telesco, who has worked in the NFL since 1991, was named the fifth general manager in franchise history Tuesday. He and Pierce will be introduced at a news conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Telesco, 51, had been the Chargers’ general manager from 2013 until Dec. 15, when he was fired a day after Los Angeles lost to the Raiders 63-21. He has been given high marks for his drafting and roster construction with the Chargers, who consistently field one of the NFL’s most talented teams.

Among the other candidates interviewed for the job were interim general manager Champ Kelly, who has been the Raiders’ assistant GM for the past two years, and Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds.

Kelly, who remains highly regarded in the Raiders’ building, is a candidate to remain as the assistant general manager. His lack of experience running a team appeared to be his only undoing, as the Raiders wanted a more established candidate.

Telesco fits that bill, having honed his craft under Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian in Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis before taking over the Chargers.

On the coaching front, Pierce has been busy assembling his staff. Patrick Graham is expected to return as the defensive coordinator, along with most of his assistants, so Pierce’s primary focus is rebuilding his offensive staff.

Among the candidates the Raiders have interviewed or are expected to interview for the offensive coordinator’s job are Rams assistant Zac Robinson, Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher, former Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and former Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

The Raiders have targeted all four for the coordinator’s position, but it’s conceivable two or three could end up on the staff as offensive position coaches.

Robinson, 37, has been with the Rams since 2019 and spent last season as the pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He played three seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, Seahawks, Lions and Bengals.

Pitcher, 37, has been with the Bengals since 2016. He’s considered an in-house favorite to take over their offensive coordinator’s position vacated by Brian Callahan, who was hired as head coach Monday by the Titans.

Getsy, 39, oversaw a Bears offense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL in 2022 and No. 2 in 2023 in rushing yards, which also makes him a candidate to be the Raiders’ run-game coordinator.

Van Pelt, 53, has experience as a quarterbacks coach, so that role also could be in play for him in Las Vegas.

With the Raiders averaging just 19.5 points per game last season, which ranked 23rd in the league, Pierce might look to hire multiple former offensive coordinators to create an offensive think tank.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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