Senior executive Tom Donahoe leaving as the Eagles’ front office changes continue
Donahoe, the longtime scout is out and it comes a year after his awkward fist bump at the NFL draft with Eagles GM Howie Roseman.
Senior football adviser Tom Donahoe, one of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman’s chief scouts and a longtime mentor to vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl, will not be returning to the team as the front office continues to undergo change after the draft, NFL sources told The Inquirer.
The Eagles and Donahoe met after the draft with his contract expiring, and after those discussions he decided it was time to move on and the organization supported him, a source with knowledge of the situation said. His future plans or whether he plans to retire remain unclear.
The team and Donahoe declined to comment for this story.
The 75-year-old Donahoe had been in the personnel department since 2012 and was a veteran voice who brought 38 years of NFL experience to the Eagles. The Pittsburgh native, who worked for the Steelers and Buffalo Bills before coming to Philly, filled various roles for the Eagles and briefly oversaw scouting when Roseman was reinstated as GM in 2016. The team won its only Super Bowl following the 2017 season.
It was his awkward fist bump with Roseman during last year’s draft, though, that made many outside the NovaCare Complex aware of the longtime scout. While both downplayed the incident in which an ESPN camera of the draft room caught a clearly displeased Donahoe reluctantly acknowledging Roseman’s offering, it offered a peek into the tension that can sometimes exist between a GM and a scouting department.
There was a belief in the building a year ago that Donahoe might leave the organization following the incident. He stayed, but he is now out a year later as the Eagles undergo a restructuring in their scouting and football operations.
The departures of senior scouts Ian Cunningham and Brandon Brown in January for promotions as assistant GMs with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, respectively, have spurred some of the moves, or moves to come. Vice president of football operations Catherine Raiche’s expected exit for the Cleveland Browns will also create a vacancy.
But Roseman is also using the departures as an opportunity to reshape the front office, a team source said.
Director of scouting operations Casey Weidl has already been let go, according to sources. Player personnel executive TJ McCreight, Southwest area scout Shawn Heinlen, and scouting assistant Evan Pritt are also no longer with the team. While Pritt was slated to leave after a one-year rotation, McCreight and Heinlen did not leave on their own volition, sources said.
The Eagles have begun interviewing outside candidates. They already met with Jim Nagy, a former NFL scout who has most recently been executive director of the Senior Bowl, and were expected to interview Brandon Hunt, the Steelers’ pro scouting coordinator, sometime this week.
Hunt was a finalist for the Eagles’ VP of player personnel job in 2016. Nagy and Hunt are likely interviewing for Raiche’s job, or some equivalent position, but neither would oversee Weidl and the personnel department.
Casey Wiedl is the younger brother to Andy. While Casey Weidl reported to his brother, his firing came from above the VP, sources said. Both Weidls were hired by the Eagles in 2016. Andy was elevated into his current role in 2019 after Joe Douglas left to become the New York Jets’ GM.
Donahoe, who ran the Steelers’ personnel department from 1993-99, gave Andy Weidl his first job in the NFL when he hired him as a player personnel assistant. Weidl left for the New Orleans Saints and then the Baltimore Ravens. Donahoe became the Bills’ GM from 2001-05 after he was fired in Pittsburgh.
While they weren’t reunited until they were both in Philadelphia, Donahoe and Weidl remained close in the intermittent years. They had known each other since Weidl was young. Donahoe and Weidl’s father were high school classmates.
The 47-year-old Weidl, who reports to Roseman, interviewed for the Steelers’ GM opening last month. Hunt is an in-house candidate. That job is expected to be filled sometime soon. It’s unclear if he’ll remain with the Eagles, whether he gets the job in Pittsburgh or follows his brother and mentor out of Philly.
Donahoe is from the old school in terms of traditional scouting. He also been known to run hot. Roseman has been at the center of previous front office struggles. Internal strife is often par for the course in the hyper-competitive NFL. But the expansion of front offices with multiple departments now having voice in the personnel process has added another dynamic to the process.
The Eagles are no different than most teams in having to juggle those various worlds. Roseman is tasked with curating evaluations from multiple channels, from scouting to coaching, analytics to sports science and more. Team sources, past and present, have pointed to the confluence as one reason why the Eagles’ drafts in recent years have been inconsistent.
Roseman revealed after last year’s draft that Donahoe wanted the Eagles to select North Carolina State defensive tackle Alim McNeill in the third round when the GM traded back a few spots for defensive tackle Milton Williams. Both rookies played in all 17 games last season and they finished with similar numbers in tackles (36 and 30), sacks (two apiece), and quarterback hits (three and six).
The 2021 draft, after a year, looks like a solid one. First-round wide receiver DeVonta Smith and second-round guard Landon Dickerson project to be long-term starters, while Williams and fifth-round running back Kenneth Gainwell showed promise in reserve roles.
The Eagles entered last week’s draft with 10 picks, two of which were first-rounders. He used the first, along with a fourth- and two fifth-round picks, to trade up two spots for Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. He traded the second first-rounder, along with a third-rounder, to the Tennessee Titans for wide receiver A.J. Brown.
“Obviously, when we started with 10 picks and we’re at six,” Roseman said after the first round. “I think Andy and his staff are a little mad at me right now for that.”
Roseman then looked at Weidl and said half-jokingly, “I got you,” in relation to trading back with the remaining four picks to accumulate more draft capital. But the Eagles made only five selections, the third time in the last five drafts they ended up with as few.
During an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” earlier this week, Roseman painted a dramatic picture of how the trade for Brown was received by Eagles staffers.
“The people in our draft room didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “And then we brought everyone in when we were on the clock at 18, and I’m sure people had favorites for who we should pick there, and basically said, ‘We traded the pick.’
“And I think people were disappointed that we traded the pick. And then I’m like, ‘And we got A.J. Brown!’”