Rivera began remaking the front office last week after Eric Schaffer, the team’s longtime salary cap expert, left the organization and was replaced by the Carolina Panthers’ top contract negotiator, Rob Rogers. At the same time, Rivera moved Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president of player personnel, to a senior vice president role overseeing player development.
For now it appears Rogers and Smith will fill the top front-office positions, although Rivera may eventually hire a general manager. Washington has not had a true general manager since Scot McCloughan was fired in March 2017. For the past three seasons, former president Bruce Allen was essentially the general manager.
Smith, 35, is considered a rising star in the NFL personnel world, especially since taking over the team’s drafts three years ago. Originally hired as an intern in 2010, Smith became a scout the next year and was promoted to scouting director in 2017. Fourteen of the Redskins’ regular starters last year came from the past three drafts, which also included several other promising players, such as running backs Derrius Guice and Bryce Love and wide receiver Trey Quinn, who have been held back by injuries.
Rivera, who spent the past 81/2 years as Carolina’s head coach, has shown a preference for surrounding himself with people he knew from the Panthers. In addition to Rogers, he also has hired Carolina’s trainer, Ryan Vermillion, and offensive coordinator, Scott Turner, and he is bringing in at least five other coaches from his staff of last season. Rivera does have familiarity with Smith, having worked with his father, A.J., when Rivera was the San Diego Chargers’ defensive coordinator and A.J. Smith was the general manager.
When Redskins owner Daniel Snyder introduced Rivera as his team’s new coach on Jan. 2, just three days after firing Allen, he said he wanted Rivera to run the organization. At the time, Rivera said he wanted to meet with holdover executives such as Schaffer, Williams and Smith to see how they could work together. Within two weeks he has allowed Schaffer to leave, moved Williams to a new role and promoted Smith — all seemingly with the approval of Snyder, who said in a statement Monday that Smith “has put in the work over the last 10 seasons and has proven to be a skilled talent evaluator.”
Smith will have an immediate impact on Rivera’s front office, because the Redskins’ scouting department is already preparing for April’s draft. He is expected to lead the team’s contingent to next week’s Senior Bowl and is likely to have a prime role as the team makes key decisions on whether to keep several high-priced veterans before free agency begins in March.
To fill Smith’s role as college scouting director, Rivera has promoted Tim Gribble, a longtime Redskins area scout who has been the team’s assistant director of college personnel for the past three years.
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