REPORT: Lionel Vital out, Will Lewis in as Houston Roughnecks general manager

After just one year, Lionel Vital is not longer the General Manager of the Houston Roughnecks.
After just one year, Lionel Vital is not longer the General Manager of the Houston Roughnecks.

The Houston Roughnecks have reportedly made a change at their general manager position. Whether a change at head coach is made remains to be seen.

According to Pro Football Newsroom’s James Larsen, Lionel Vital is out as general manager of the Houston Roughnecks after one season. He will be replaced by Will Lewis, who was the Director of Player Personnel (their de facto GM) with the San Antonio Brahmas in the XFL in 2023. Neither the league nor the team has confirmed the report.

It is a unique situation as general managers are full-time employees and under contract to the league, while head coaches had their contracts expire at the end of June and are now termed seasonal employees. It’s unclear, therefore, whether this move was initiated by Roughnecks head coach Curtis Johnson, or by league management.

The Roughnecks had the worst record in the UFL at 1-9 last season. There were real questions about whether Johnson would return for a third season. He was 5-5 as head coach in the USFL in 2023.

Vital was the Houston franchise’s third general manager in three years. In 2022, the first year of the rebooted USFL, the then-Gamblers were led by Kevin Sumlin both on the field and as GM. Curtis Johnson took over as head coach in 2023, with Robert Morris as general manager. Vital succeeded Morris as Johnson’s right-hand man.

Vital is a 30-year veteran of NFL front offices, starting as a college scout for the Cleveland Browns in 1991, eventually working his way up to Director of Player Personnel with the Atlanta Falcons. Before coming to Houston, he was last in the NFL as a Senior Personnel Executive with the Dallas Cowboys in 2021.

Lewis began as a scout with the Green Bay Packers in 1997 following a nine-year playing career and four years as an assistant coach. For a decade, he was the Director of Pro Personnel for the Seattle Seahawks. His alternative football experience includes stops in the AAF, as well as XFL 2020 and 2023. He was left without a job when Brahmas head coach Hines Ward decided against coaching the team in 2024.

With UFL Showcases beginning next week, and the UFL Rookie Draft reportedly taking place sometime later this month, it’s imperative the league have all of its general managers in place by then. Ideally, head coaches will have made the decision whether to stay or go for 2025 as well so that they can contribute to the scouting of potential players for next season.

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