Washington is expected to name Marty Hurney its new general manager, and while the fans might be uninspired by the likely hire, that could change quickly.
Hurney, if he gets the job, will face a number of massive decisions right away, and even though Ron Rivera is the ultimate arbiter for the Washington Football Team, the new GM will provide a big role in making moves.
Let's dig in to the top of Hurney's to-do list if he gets the job:
- Who is QBX? - Rivera admitted that the top priority for the Washington Football Team is to solve its quarterback situation. Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke are restricted free agents, which likely means they will be back if Washington wants them, but the bigger issue is Alex Smith and his $24 million salary-cap hit in 2021. Smith's story is incredible, and his comeback was even more remarkable, but the late-season calf strain/bone bruise he dealt with provided a reality check for the organization. Can Washington really count on Smith in 2021, and beyond that, can Washington count on Smith at $24 million against the cap? If that answer is no, what's the next option? Draft? Veteran free agent? A major trade? That's what Hurney is walking into. This team won seven games in 2020 while starting four different quarterbacks. Solve the QB riddle, and a 10-win season seems possible. Flop at QB? Back to the abyss.
- To pay or not to pay? Good news: For the first time in almost 30 years Washington landed a player on the All-Pro team. Bad news: That player - Brandon Scherff - is slated for free agency in March. Scherff has been clear he wants to stay in Washington, and Rivera has hinted that he wants the stud right guard back on the team. The only hurdle that remains is a massive contract with likely $45 million guaranteed and an annual salary around $15 million or more. There's a scenario where paying Scherff makes a ton of sense - because he's really good. But there's also a scenario where Washington lets him walk - if they have to pay a veteran QB and want to add another weapon at WR, the salary cap space could shrink up. There's also another path where Washington is able to guarantee a bunch of cash for Scherff and spread it out over the term of the contract and still do what needs to be done elsewhere on offense. Stay tuned.
- Good to great? - Washington's defense was good in 2020, and statistically, it was great. Jack Del Rio's group finished ranked 2nd in the NFL in yards allowed and 4th in the NFL in points allowed. That's tremendous, and in the second half of the season the defense was damn near dominant in the second half of games. That's all great news, but eventually, changes need to be made. How will Hurney find help at linebacker? Draft? Free agency? What about Ronald Darby or Fabian Moreau? Both are free agents after the season. Also, Jonathan Allen will be playing on the last year of his rookie deal in 2021. Daron Payne is right behind. Matt Ioannidis missed most of 2020 and has a contract that expires after the 2022 season. Eventually news deals will be needed for Montez Sweat, and while it feels super far away, what about a mega-extension for Chase Young? For the long haul, how Hurney, Rivera and every other Washington decision-maker handles the future of the defense and the defensive line in particular will determine if the Burgundy and Gold become a perennial playoff contender, or another flash in the FedEx Field pan.
Stay tuned to NBCSportsWashington.com for the latest in the WFT GM search.