In a move that seemingly came out of left field, Washington fired two longtime front office members on Sunday -- Alex Santos and Richard Mann II -- just 16 days before training camp begins.
Sure, the team had its reasons for these moves. Only the people inside the doors of Redskins Park can explain. But what is a bit odd is the timing. Why now? Why in mid-July with training camp right around the corner?
Since last December, the Burgundy and Gold have made several organizational changes. The team's current staff has few holdovers from 2019.
Longtime team president Bruce Allen was fired on Dec. 30, and head coach Ron Rivera was hired two days later. Head athletic trainer Larry Hess, who had been with the organization for 17 years, was let go, too.
Washington has yet to announce a formal replacement for Allen, but Senior VP of Player Personnel, Kyle Smith, has served as the de facto acting general manager. Smith, along with Rivera, spearheaded Washington's 2020 draft, and the head coach had plenty of praise for Smith following the three-day April event.
Eric Schaffer, the team's VP of football operations, who spent 17 years with the franchise as the organization's respected salary-cap guru and general counsel, was let go in January as well. Rivera brought in Rob Rogers from Carolina to replace him.
Doug Williams, one of the Burgundy and Gold's iconic players, was even reassigned from the pro personnel department to the player development department this offseason.
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All of these moves had one thing in common that these recent dismissal doesn't: the timing makes sense.
Allen's firing in December was, by all accounts, overdue. He had spent 10 years with the organization, and during that span, Washington made the playoffs just twice with no postseason victories. Rivera's hiring in January was customary for when teams replace head coaches. Schaffer's dismissal came a few weeks after Rivera was hired in January, as the head coach was working through the process of which staff members he wanted to hold over.
But for Santos and Mann? The timing, on the surface level, just doesn't make sense. The team had months to make changes at their respective roles.
Should they have been let go in January, that would have made sense. Rivera would still have been in his first few weeks as head coach, figuring out how he wants to build his staff. Or maybe after free agency? That's when their jobs at the pro level would have been complete.
Should this move have occurred in early May following the draft, that would have also made sense. Many front office staffers are let go across the NFL following the draft, as teams don't want to waste a year of their work by dismissing them prior to the draft itself. There are still priority undrafted free agents to sign and work to do. But, especially in 2020 when the ongoing coronavirus pandemic wiped out rookie minicamp, OTAs and veterans' minicamp. there was an easy gap to make changes.
But once again, why now? July is usually a dead period in the NFL, as teams have one final break before gearing up for training camp and the upcoming season. Major personnel moves are rarely made in July, if ever.
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Last year, the New York Jets got plenty of scrutiny for firing then-GM Mike Maccagnan in May, just a few weeks after the draft. That was in May, and the organization received major backlash.
Washington didn't get rid of a general manager on Sunday - Rivera is firmly in control there with Smith assuming more power - but it did dismiss two important members of its front office with training camp arriving soon. Those roles will have to be filled and it's not an ideal time to find candidates. Most prospects would have employment by now. Maybe there are internal hires the organization likes?
With training camp just over two weeks away, the timing of Santos and Mann's dismissal is just plain odd. And with the team's potential name change still at the forefront, these moves will only add to what will likely be another crazy week in Ashburn.
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