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Washington Commanders request to interview Chicago Bears Assistant GM Ian Cunningham

GM interviews are starting

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SPORTS-COLUMN-IF-JALEN-CARTER-REMAINS-1-TB Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Washington Commanders fired Head Coach Ron Rivera this morning, but haven’t booted GM Martin Mayhew...yet. Josh Harris has hired form NBA exec Bob Myers and former NFL exec Rick Spielman to lead their search for a new coach and head of football operations. There have already been two names linked to Washington for their head coaching search(Jim Harbaugh, Raheem Morris), and now we’ve got our first GM candidate linked to the franchise.

Ian Cunningham is currently the Assistant GM for the Chicago Bears and has been on a lot of lists for GM the last few years. He has been a popular name in the Washington fanbase as a young, talented executive who played the game, and came up in the Ravens organization working closely with Ozzie Newsome. Washington has requested permission to interview him, and he has to be considered a top candidate for the position.

Ian Cunningham’s GM profile

Cunningham was on the cusp of landing the Arizona Cardinals job before pulling his name out last year. He interviewed in Tennessee, too, and that was without the results the Bears are getting now in the rebuild he has helped orchestrate alongside GM Ryan Poles. Cunningham came from Philly, where he was college director and assistant director of player personnel for Howie Roseman. He also worked under Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore, where he worked his way into a position as Southeast area scout—a post that Newsome, the Alabama legend, didn’t staff lightly.

Cunningham was tutored in front offices led by former Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman. Those organizations are known for blending tape-watching and data in their player evaluation process. After nine seasons of scouting for the Ravens, Cunningham landed with the Eagles, where he served as director of college scouting (2017-18), assistant director of player personnel (2019-20) and director of player personnel (2021).

Ryan Poles’s No. 2 has deep roots in the DMV. His father, Louis, was a sports agent whose firm was headquartered in the D.C. area and repped athletes such as Michael Jordan and Arthur Ashe, Louis’s cousin. Cunningham attended the University of Virginia, where he played on the offensive line and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education. When his playing days were over, he transitioned to personnel under the tutelage of Ravens executive vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome.

Newsome hired Cunningham in 2008 as a player personnel assistant, a role he held for five seasons before becoming an area scout for the Ravens and helping them build their Super Bowl XLVII roster. He headed to Philadelphia in 2017 to lead the Eagles’ college scouting department. Cunningham moved up the ranks to director of player personnel, playing a part in the Eagles’ run to Super Bowl LII.

Cunningham, who has 15 years of personnel experience and two as an assistant GM, participated in the NFL’s GM accelerator program in Dallas this month, affording him early face time with Harris and Commanders limited partner Mitchell Rales.