A Snake in the Grass
Inside the Turbulent Career of Mike Mojica
The Red Zone is a league full of storylines, intrigue, and controversy – we have seen our fair share around the league over its 52 seasons. From the eras of the Kolbra Kai front office, to the Jay Huhn fiasco, the league has endured some very tumultuous times in its history.
One of its most decorated coaches and presidents of football operations is Mike Mojica, recently with the Green Bay Packers, formerly of the Raiders, Jets, Bills, and now the New Orleans Saints. This front office has seen success wherever it has gone, by instilling its culture into the locker room and the building.
The initial foundation for a story like this began months ago, in a coffee shop in….let’s say, Connersville. I met with my initial source who worked inside the Green Bay front office, and he shared some information with me that at least led me to poke around more. After months of research, I’ve talked to dozens of sources around the Red Zone, I have finally decided to publish the ‘tell-all’ about Mike Mojica and his practices as a general manager.
The career of Mike Mojica as a general manager can really be broken down into these main factors.
- – The unprofessional relationship he has with his own players, and the treatment of them and their contracts
- – The relationship he has with other general managers around the league, and the reputation he has created
- – His bullying mindset that has cornered other front offices into making moves they did not want to
Because of all of these, our antenna has been up for months. Here is what we have learned regarding these three main factors over the last few months, from other general managers, former players, and even members of Mike Mojica’s former staffs.
Mike Mojica did not reply to an interview request for this story.
The Trouble with Contracts & Players
Despite being a general manager, Mike Mojica did not respect the parameters and details of the salary cap. In fact, he has little knowledge of it. In the early days of his career, he employed a salary cap specialist who actually responded to us a few months ago.
‘To say he has no idea what he is doing money wise is completely accurate. When he attempted to make multiple trades that would have plummeted us into cap purgatory the next two years, I tried to offer a solution to get players of a similar quality for less money. I was informed the following Monday I had to look for work elsewhere.’
Players in negotiations with this front office have known to request unusually high guaranteed money, due to the turnover that usually comes from this staff. Players are more likely to be traded under a Mojica regime than any other around the league, and they are very aware of it.
‘I had to move three times. I was drafted by Cleveland, then was traded to Green Bay. My family was so happy, I was finally in a winning organization, was paid all my guaranteed money, and bought a nice house in Wisconsin. After my first year, Coach Mojica informs me I’ve been traded back to Cleveland. I just enrolled my kids in school in Wisconsin, bought a home, and now I had to move again. The worst part is I received a text from him, and he ignored my call to him. I’ve never been involved in something like that before tin this league.’ – Former player of Mike Mojica.
One of the most notable examples as of late was the Nicholas Fitzpatrick fiasco a year or so ago, in which Mike Mojica dangled his franchise quarterback to all 31 other teams around the league after a stretch of poor football. Fitzpatrick was absolutely devastated, not to mention this was three seasons off Mike Mojica failing to inform Aaron Rodgers of his plans to replace him.
Rodgers was sent to football purgatory following his stint in Green Bay, in which he played for the 49ers under Coach Caiello. His quote to us actually inspired the name of our piece.
‘Don’t trust him. He’s a snake in the grass.’
Nicholas Fitzpatrick’s trade story was actually a ruse by the front office, to trick the Chicago Bears front office into believing they had a shot at the quarterback, essentially sabotaging their offseason plans and keeping Ricky Chapstick and the Bears from pursuing other realistic options.
Fitzpatrick’s family is a longtime friend of the Mojica’s, but he did admit that being used as a pawn in the game of his front office was disheartening. Fitzpatrick did end up re-signing with the Packers, but saw his play struggle as the cycle came to an end. Fitzpatrick did tell us that he has not received a Christmas card from the Mojica’s in a few years, something that he received every year he was in Green Bay.
Even under the new regime of the Saints, a pair of trades were completed prior to the new league year to acquire cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver Golden Tate, and a pending contract extension for wide out Michael Thomas was coming.
Sources inside the front office said Mojica was asking members of his staff who they could cut to make room if the money didn’t work out. When told there weren’t any realistic options, Mojica had a tirade in the operations room, berating his staff, telling them to ‘figure it out’.
Even the annual Mojica pre-training camp trip couldn’t be without controversy. Every year, it is tradition that Mojica takes his entire coaching staff and front office on a vacation to the mountains of Colorado for a weekend of bonding and relaxation prior to the season really kicking off. This year, the entire coaching staff made the trip, and invites were not extended to the salary cap management team. They were left behind.
Perception Around the League
When we began this story, the thing that really opened our eyes was the level of dismay towards the Mojica front office from other general managers.
‘In forty-five seasons in this league, I have never met someone that is as deceitful, conniving, and downright unprofessional when it comes to negotiations. I understand we have a job to do, I understand this is all business, but he takes it too far. I’ve been in locker rooms with players he has coached, and the stories of immoral and disgusting behaviors is unbelievable.’ – Anonymous general manager
That scathing quote from another general manager is the status quo when I poked around Red Zone – people did not want to deal with this staff. I have it from multiple front offices that anytime they see his name on their caller ID, they simply hang up the phone.
Multiple stories began to form regarding the nature of trade negotiations. Mike Mojica will consistently threaten other general managers regarding personal information or player information if they don’t play by his rules. One general manager in particular knew one of his players had severe knee issues, more than they were letting on, and Mojica threatened to reveal that information if they wouldn’t agree to a trade for what the source called ‘pennies on the dollar.’
Even former general managers of the league had comments regarding the story, as retired Aaron Spooner texted me ‘I’m now in the banking industry where I see this kind of stuff daily, and I have never encountered a better con man than Mike Mojica.’
One general manager informed us that instead of trading a player due to the inability to take on the current salary, that they should just agree to cut the player into free agency, then the Packers could sign that player to his current money, and the Packers would later send the agreed upon draft capital. Sources tell us that the Packers were prepared to offer that player well below their current salary.
‘Every year we started travel around March, and worked from March until the following February, so essentially 11 months of scouting. No matter what we did, no matter the work or the analytics, we never saw those rookies come into our building. The picks were always traded. He didn’t trust us, or value our work.’ – Former head of scouting for the Buffalo Bills under Mike Mojica
The scouting conditions for the Mike Mojica staff have been notoriously unfulfilling, but I wasn’t aware of the extent. Mojica does not pay the scouts for hotels or food while they are on scouting trips, and pays them bonuses depending on the player’s reports in correlation to them getting drafted.
‘When we don’t draft these players, we don’t get paid. That’s his system. He worked us, because he knows he never has to pay us. He pockets that money.’
No front office has invested more money in paying guaranteed contracts off due to the amount of trades or releases.
The Threats and the Bullying
Maybe the most discouraging and shocking information I received over the last few months was the amount of threats that was dealt by this front office to other general managers and even other players.
I was told by a former Oakland Raider in the Mojica days, that his family was threatened over a phone call when Mojica was employing one of his legendary pep talks. The player called Mojica a ‘narcissist’ and a ‘mad-man’. Said his children were not important enough to miss football for.
Many of the stories sent to me were regarding the relationship between the Mojica and Michael Miles front offices. Many call them a ‘farm-system’ relationship, to which Miles denied whole-heartedly. Others, had different things to say.
‘You’re talking about the most inept front office in our league which willingly sends their assets to someone because they are afraid of them. That’s what is going on here. I don’t know what Mojica has on Miles, but it’s something bad, and he uses it every year to get more from that team. Look at Golden Tate, it just happened again – he talked Miles into writing a twenty-two million check to Tate in guaranteed money, for a third round pick. The offices like ours, we put the time in, and we scour the market and the analytics. This group (Mojica) makes it up as they go, and consistently get help from Miles’ staff.’ – Anonymous general manager
I was told that Mojica would send photos of battered and bloodied faces to his players the morning of game days, as inspiration. He enforced a strict ‘no-water’ rule during practices in training camp, as a means to ‘toughen’ them up.
The members of the Red Zone trade committee are governed by the collective bargaining agreement to review all trades, and many of them have had their livelihood threatened by this front office. One said Mojica threatened to out shady CBA practices about another trade committee member if he didn’t switch his vote from a veto to an approval. He will hound the members of the committee if his trades aren’t approved, and even go as far as to hound their spouses.
Mojica has attempted every loophole he could find in the CBA, regarding player positional movement, salary cap manipulation, and trade negotiation. After our investigation, I’m not sure his staff has a friend in the world.
With the revelations and realizations we have come to in this piece, it feels as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Withholding information like this for so long can be taxing, and it is better for the league that they know about this, as Aaron Rodgers put it, ‘snake in the grass.’
Life will go on, but expect perception to change regarding negotiations with the Mojica front office, and expect deep investigation by Red Zone higher ups into the Mojica-Miles ‘farm-system’ term coined by other members of the league.
One can only hope information like this helps make the league better, keeps players and managers safe, and keeps those around the league in check. Thank you for reading, thank you for the brave sources for stepping up and giving us this information, without you – this would not be possible.