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Searching for a New Redskins GM

April 5, 2017
The Washington Redskins need a new general manager after firing Scot McCloughan in March, on the first night of free agency.

They won’t hire somebody to replace McCloughan as general manager until after the NFL Draft which takes place at the end of this month.

The day after firing McCloughan, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had emerged as a top candidate. Mayock quickly rejected that, but as we know, the NFL is full of a lot of people who won’t hesitate to try and cover their tracks.

Doug Williams is likely to be the top in-house candidate, but the Redskins have several other choices under the same roof, such as Scott Campbell, Alex Santos and Eric Schaffer.

There are other candidates such as ESPN’s Mark Dominik ( he and Williams do not have a good relationship, so this is unlikely) and perhaps one of three Green Bay Packers executives Eliot Wolf, Brian Gutekunst and Alonzo Highsmith.

We wrote recently here on about an old friend to many in the building, Morocco Brown, possibly returning to Redskins Park.  

Dan Hatman from "The Scouting Academy" generated this detailed list of league-wide general manager candidates and their interview history

Nobody knows for sure – exactly what Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder are thinking but it’s logical to add some of the names that Hatman has on his list like Nick Caserio of the New England Patriots and Scott Fitterer of the Seattle Seahawks.

Will McClay is also a name to keep an eye on because he’s helped to build a pretty good roster in Dallas with some high profile offensive draft talent and Dan Snyder has a terrific relationship with Jerry Jones. One could see the Redskins wanting to hurt the Cowboys by giving a promotion to McClay.

George Paton of the Vikings is a name that has been in the mix for several jobs, as has Duke Tobin of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Chris Polian, Bill’s son, could also be in the mix as well. There are others and the Redskins could go unconventional as well. I know it’s an extreme long-shot, but with the Redskins being the Redskins and needing a good PR jolt, I still wouldn’t rule out Jay Gruden’s brother, Jon.

Internally, some people at Redskins Park are pushing for former Chargers GM A.J. Smith to return to Redskins Park, in some sort of capacity.

Smith does not have a great relationship with Dan Snyder, per sources, but is extremely tight with Allen and is well respected by others.

You might remember our column about what led the Redskins to McCloughan, which essentially was Smith’s adversarial relationship with Snyder over Robert Griffin III – which led to Snyder looking in a different direction from Allen’s preferred choice.

Smith would certainly be open to coming out of retirement, via league sources, but it’s not expected to happen in Washington because of the past friction between Smith and Snyder.

In the words of one source and this was verified by another source, even after Smith retired from the NFL – he and Snyder had a heated exchange over Griffin as he visited Richmond and training camp in August 2015.

Bruce Allen and other owners of the organization were there and it was described as very testy.  

Smith, as it turns out was right. As was Jay Gruden along with Mike and Kyle Shanahan, among others. Griffin could not play

One source insisted that the Redskins will cast a very wide net, unlike the McCloughan search and hire.

Per multiple sources, the process will begin quickly after the draft as opposed to the McCloughan decision which was a fast and hasty search with few options.

The Redskins want to provide the image and perhaps reality that the search will be thorough and legitimate.

The Redskins would probably be wise to go outside of the organization to show the skeptics that you don’t have to be one of “Bruce’s guys” to get the job.McCloughan was a mixed bag. His father and brother worked with Allen in Oakland, so there was still a connection.

Perhaps ust as important, the Redskins feel they must bring in somebody that the public thinks will challenge the status quo and the power that the “executive branch” often brings to the table.

The person that is ultimately chosen would have to understand that there’s an opportunity to wrestle some control away from Allen and Snyder, assuming they have a good working relationship with all of the key decision makers, which includes head coach Jay Gruden.

Two wild-card scenarios that I would keep in the back of your mind: Eric Schaffer is widely considered the smartest and most humble individual at Redskins Park. He’s spanned many coaches and several general managers, while never being given the chance to run more of the show.

Schaffer, is entering his 15 th season with the Redskins and his 11 th as a VP of Football Administration. He also is Redskins General Counsel, which means he wears a lot of important hats.

I got to know Schaffer well during my time inside the building and the one area that he is never given any credit for is his football knowledge. He’s been studying that side of the business for several years, taking notes and getting more and more comfortable in the personnel side of the business.

Could Schaffer be given an opportunity that he likely still wants, while the Redskins use his immense talents still in other areas? He would likely need somebody else to handle a lot of the issues he must deal with, so that would be more of a legal/business type.

How about Amy Trask, the former CEO of the Oakland Raiders and trusted confidante of the late Al Davis to help Schaffer out on the business side? Allen had tremendous admiration for Davis and Trask worked in Oakland while Allen was an executive with the Raiders. It’s believed that their relationship is fine, but that isn't exactly clear.

If Bruce Allen wants to bring in another football mind to the organization that he has ties with, in perhaps an advisor/consultant role, he could bring in Michael Lombardi.

Lombardi, was with Cleveland and New England in recent years, while sprinkling in media work before and after those front-office stints. Lombardi was a senior personnel executive with the Raiders from 1998 – 2007. Allen was in Oakland from 1996 – 2003, so  they have a long working relationship. 

We mention the last scenario because it is possible that the Redskins do not hire anybody right away or perhaps for a while, stretching into the season. Even by casting a wider net, they might not find the options or choices that they desire or they might not find somebody with leverage that desires them. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network ( & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN