Despite their tumultuous offseason, the Washington Redskins should have no trouble filling their general-manager vacancy with a capable candidate.
That’s the view of former Green Bay Packers executive Andrew Brandt, now an NFL business analyst with ESPN.
“There is going to be no shortage of people wanting to be a general manager of the Redskins, just as there wasn’t for the 49ers,” said Brandt, who negotiated player contracts and managed the salary cap as vice president of the Packers, in a telephone interview. “These are brand names for anyone who grew up with football and who would potentially be a candidate for a GM. I don’t think for a minute they’re going to have a hard time attracting qualified candidates.”
Redskins senior vice president Tony Wyllie declined to provide a timetable for filling the job, referencing instead the April 9 statement from President Bruce Allen announcing the firing of Scot McCloughan two years, two months into his four-year contract. “The organization remains confident in our personnel department as we execute our free-agency plans, as well as prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft,” it read in part.
So clearly the Redskins feel they’re well-positioned for the draft given the preparatory work of their scouting department and coaching staff. According to insiders, the search isn’t expected to conclude before early May, when the front offices of many NFL teams are in flux in the wake of the NFL draft.
So where will Daniel Snyder find the fifth general manager during his 18-year tenure as Redskin owner?
The traditional career path for NFL general managers is to come up through the scouting ranks, as McCloughan did. That was also the route of former Redskins GM Vinny Cerrato, the first general manager Snyder hired.
Brandt, who began his NFL career as a player agent before ascending the management ranks at Green Bay, feels that pure expertise in scouting isn’t enough for a GM in today’s NFL given the broad demands of the position.
“My thoughts are that a general manager has to be much more than a talent-evaluator,” Brandt said. “He has to [coordinate] the three parts of the organization — talent-evaluation, coaching and contract-management. He doesn’t necessarily have to come from that [scouting] background. And we’re seeing teams starting to think outside the box.”
The 49ers are an example, capping a month-long search for a successor to longtime GM Trent Baalke with the surprise hiring of former NFL safety John Lynch, even though Lynch had no scouting nor management experience. Lynch, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February, followed his 16-year NFL career with a broadcast career as an NFL analyst for Fox.
In a similar vein, the Redskins may tap an outstanding former player of their own, quarterback Doug Williams, MVP of Super Bowl XXII, who also boasts experience as a coach and a front-office executive at Tampa Bay and Washington.
Also in the Redskins’ sights, at least initially, was NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, whose work Snyder is said to admire.
But there is a difference between someone with experience evaluating talent for NFL teams and someone who speaks with authority on the topic. The former tends to get fired for erring badly, while the misjudgments of commentators don’t carry as harsh a penalty. Mayock, for example, was among the more enthusiastic backers of Johnny Manziel heading into the 2014 draft and, in the 2012 draft, hailed Alabama’s Trent Richardson as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Both players are out of football.
Like San Francisco, the Redskins may find their candidate among the many former NFL front-office executives currently working in broadcast booths. ESPN analyst Mark Dominik, who succeeded Allen as general manager in Tampa Bay, is one such name.
But the biggest pool of candidates won’t be available until after the three-day draft, which begins April 27 in Philadelphia.
Thursday news and notes
A quick look at the day’s notable developments.
#Redskins have signed LB Chris Carter. Played 9 games w/the Colts last season. Has appeared in 62 regular season games in 6 seasons.
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) March 16, 2017