The Pittsburgh Steelers have interviewed Ryan Cowden, Ed Dodds and JoJo Wooden for their vacant general manager position, the team announced on Friday. Those three interviews came in addition to the interviewing of two internal GM candidates, pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt and vice president Omar Khan.
Cowden is the Tennessee Titans’ vice president of player personnel. Like Hunt, his background is in talent evaluation. Cowden has been with Tennessee since 2016 after spending the previous 16 seasons with the Carolina Panthers as a college scouting director. In total, Cowden has 22 seasons of NFL front office experience.
Dodds is the Indianapolis Colts’ assistant general manager, a position he has held since 2018. Before his time with Indy, Dodds spent 10 years with the Seattle Seahawks as they built a Super Bowl champion. Dodds was also a candidate for the Chicago Bears and Las Vegas Raiders GM openings this offseason.
Wooden is the Los Angeles Chargers’ director of player personnel. He has been with the Chargers since 2013 and oversees the team’s pro and college scouting departments. Before his time with the Chargers, he spent 16 seasons with the New York Jets.
By interviewing Wooden, the Steelers have fulfilled half of their interview obligations under the enhanced Rooney Rule, which requires two interviews of external minority candidates for a head coach, general manager or coordinator position.
That rule has come under fire in recent weeks, with former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and current Steelers assistant Teryl Austin alleging that teams held sham interviews simply to meet the rule’s conditions.
Steelers president Art Rooney II, the son of the rule’s namesake Dan Rooney, defended it this week, saying that it has caused improvements in the rates of hiring female and minority candidates in coordinator and general manager positions, even if it has not come through in head coaching hires.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is the only current Black NFL coach. Robert Saleh of the New York Jets is Lebanese and Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders is Latino. Both Flores and former Houston Texans coach David Culley were fired this offseason.