Houston Roughnecks Swap Lionel Vital For Will Lewis At GM

Houston Roughnecks Swap Lionel Vital For Will Lewis At GM

As the UFL offseason ensues, we’re already seeing some personnel movement. The Houston Roughnecks have removed Lionel Vital from his General Manager position, after just one year. Sources tell Pro Football Newsroom that Will Lewis will be taking over, who makes his return to spring football after several months off.

This is the third General Manager this Houston franchise will have in three years. Back when they were under the Houston Gamblers branding, it was Bob Morris who led the reins at the position for the first two seasons.

In the 2023 USFL offseason, Head Coach C.J. Johnson made the decision to bring Lionel Vital in, to replace Morris. After what was a tumultuous season for Houston, which resulted in a 1-9 record, the Roughnecks are making another change.

Will Lewis

Will Lewis is no stranger to the scene of spring football. He was the General Manager for the Memphis Express back in the AAF’s 2019 season. After that league collapsed, Lewis then was picked up by the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks in 2020, as an Assistant Director of Player Personnel under Randy Mueller.

Lewis ended up joining the San Antonio Brahmas staff in 2022, with Hines Ward. Will was the DPP up until the merger caused Ward to step away. While they boasted just a 3-7 record in 2023, San Antonio did feature quite a bit of talent as a team, but simply couldn’t execute on the field that year. They also had made some phenomenal offseason acquisitions, that didn’t really amount to much since Ward and the staff left the league.

Will played in the NFL for several years, totaling 26 games of action after being signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an UDFA. He also has plenty of NFL experience as a talent evaluator/scout, working with the Packers, Seahawks, and Chiefs in various positions.

Lionel Vital’s UFL Tenure

The Houston Roughnecks did not live up to expectations in the UFL this year. Vital brought in quite a bit of new talent to the organization – and some did perform quite well. Examples of those players would be a guy like Markel Roby, who excelled in the secondary as one of the UFL’s best. Kirk Merritt, Kiondre Thomas, and JJ Molson are a few others who were bright spots this year.

That said, there were some serious issues in Houston in 2024, and there’s a reason why they were at the bottom of most of the power rankings to begin the year. At the quarterback position, they didn’t bring in anyone that necessarily stuck out. Reid Sinnett, Jarrett Guarantano, and Nolan Henderson all struggled to maintain as QB1 throughout the season.

Additionally, the Roughnecks were one of the oldest teams in the UFL. Their age was on display at times, with certain key veterans going down with injury. Additionally, some of the younger talent that they targeted either in the offseason, or during the regular season, weren’t of the same caliber that other UFL franchises were attracting. Pair that with the lack of diversity in the WR room, plus an offensive line that never really gelled, and it’s clear to see why this franchise only won one game in 2024.

Final Thoughts

There’s no way to really sugarcoat it, things didn’t go well for Houston in 2024. As Coach Johnson put it, it was “a season full of winters”. Obviously, changes need to be made in order to improve upon a 1-9 record. While roster turnover is certainly expected as players contracts expire in August, C.J. is beginning to make some moves of his own, with this latest personnel adjustment.

With the UFL Rookie Draft fast approaching, Johnson and Lewis will have to get to work quickly. There is a lot of quality talent available, with many draft-eligible players looking to join a UFL roster for the 2025 season.

What are your thoughts on Lionel Vital moving on from the UFL? Will the Houston Roughnecks improve with Will Lewis and his leadership? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!