Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew speaks softly and rarely reveals much when dealing with the media, which is why his January comments about Pro Bowl offensive lineman Brandon Scherff were so notable.
In a press conference two days after Washington's 2021 regular season concluded, Mayhew told reporters that the organization has "made every effort to get something done" with Scherff, who's a pending free agent, including offering him a deal in 2020 that would've designated him as "the highest-paid offensive guard in the history of the National Football League."
Scherff declined the offer and played under the franchise tag instead.
That was the last time Mayhew held a press conference — until Wednesday at the Combine in Indianapolis. During that session, he expressed regret over his words from a few months ago.
"I probably went too far into that," Mayhew admitted. "I don't like to negotiate through the media, and I kind of felt like I might've crossed the line saying that, so I don't plan on doing that again."
Mayhew's go-to line when responding to questions that he believes are too invasive is, "I'm not going to get into that." He leans on that answer, or some similar variation of it, more than Commanders quarterbacks have leaned on Terry McLaurin since 2019.
Again, that's why his initial statements about Scherff carried so much weight. On Wednesday, he explained the reasoning behind that unusual moment of candor.
"I feel like in that situation, that needed to be said, because what I sensed was — from the media, fans and things that I was reading — we weren't doing enough to try and get the deal done," Mayhew told reporters at the Combine. "That's why I made the comment that I made, but I don't plan on making any more comments about it."
Whether Mayhew's original words or his Wednesday back-tracking will actually impact Scherff's future with the franchise is unknown, though it appears unlikely. By far the most critical factor, like negotiations with most free agents, will be money. And Scherff is projected to make a lot of it in 2022 and beyond.
The All-Pro guard is undoubtedly vital to the Commanders offensive line, yet he's also struggled with durability for years. Coach Ron Rivera came out on Tuesday and said he is confident in that unit with or without Scherff, and it seems like the safe bet is on Scherff suiting up elsewhere come Week 1.
Just don't expect Mayhew to publicly assess the situation any further. He did that in January, now wishes he hadn't and intends to keep the negotiations private moving forward.
"I plan on working with him and his agent," Mayhew said. "The way that it should be done."