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Chargers and Cardinals expected to stay in-house for GM openings

San Diego will part with general manager A.J. Smith this week, league sources said, and the Cardinals are mulling removing long-time general Rod Graves from that position, sources said (though Graves would be expected to stay in some other capacity if that move is made).

In both instances sources continue to say that the most likely replacements are already on staff. Much has been made of San Diego's high regard for Jimmy Raye, the team's director of player personnel, and he could well be promoted in Smith's departure, league sources said. The Chargers will be restructuring their organization as well, with John Spanos, San Diego's director of college scouting, getting a new position. Owner Dean Spanos, John's father, is transitioning to a point where his son eventually takes over running the franchise as owner, perhaps as soon as 2-3 years away.

So, John Spanos will be getting a title and position, perhaps a team president-type role, in which he does not report to the new general manager. Sources said Dean Spanos is likely to concentrate first on filling the general manager position before launching into a coaching search.

Graves has been with the Cardinals since 1997 and helped the team reach unparalleled heights with a recent Super Bowl appearance. The Bidwill family has long appreciated his work but assistant general manager Steve Keim is also seen as a rising star. He was promoted last year, and sources said he is being considering for the general managers title there.

As for other general managers who could be gone, Gene Smith (Jaguars) and Tom Heckert (Browns) will be let go, league sources said. Scott Pioli (Chiefs) is also very likely to be out. Ownership is mulling changes with the front offices in Buffalo (Buddy Nix) and Tennessee (Ruston Webster) as well, though those decisions may not be finalized right away. And several league sources believe the Lions could reshape their front office as well, with longtime exec Martin Mayhew possibly in a different role.

 
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