A.J. Smith

Latest On Redskins’ GM Search

The Redskins are casting a wide net in their search for a general manager, but they’re already finding that several top executives are not interested in working for them. Redskins officials are looking at some of the more successful teams in the league to find a highly qualified candidates, but several targets have already removed themselves from consideration, according to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora. Redskins Cheerleader (vertical)

La Canfora doesn’t list specific names of execs who have been considered, but he hears that the search has included front office people with the Steelers, Seahawks, and Packers. I would speculate that the list of candidates could include Packers Director of Football Operations Eliot Wolf, Packers Director of Player Personnel Brian Gutekunst, and Seahawks co-Directors of Player Personnel Scott Fitterer and Trent Kirchner. However, based on what JLC is hearing, they might not have any interest in the job.

Front office guys from around the league have multiple concerns about the gig. It’s not clear who would really have the power in D.C. given the history of meddling from team president Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder. Furthermore, the team’s proposed GM salary is in the $1.5MM range, and that might not be enough money to make a top candidate overlook all of the red flags in Washington. There’s also concern about whether Snyder will be willing to pump the necessary resources into scouts and talent evaluators.

So far, former Bucs GM Mark Dominik and ex-Chargers GM A.J. Smith have been among the names linked to the opening, but JLC hears that neither guy is expected to land the job. Former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock have also been mentioned as possibilities. In the past, La Canfora has opined that Redskins executive Alex Santos would make a good internal candidate for the job and today he also put forth the name of Washington cap guru Eric Schaffer.

As we’ve heard previously, no hire will be made before the draft in late April, but JLC gets the sense that the Redskins also don’t want to let the process linger too far beyond the draft either.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins, McCloughan Likely To Part Ways

It sure sounds like Scot McCloughan will be ousted in D.C. The Redskins have been “entertaining” new general manager options for “quite some time,” numerous league sources tell Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Apparently, the team has internally discussed names and La Canfora writes says they have “essentially have begun the process.” Unsurprisingly, then, a parting of ways is “inevitable” – perhaps in the form of a buyout – multiple sources tell Mike Jones of the Washington Post.Scot McCloughan (vertical)

If team president Bruce Allen looks for a successor to McCloughan, one name that has surfaced is former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik, who has a history with Allen. La Canfora also suggests a possible promotion for executive Alex Santos, though the team has never promoted from within to fill the GM role, while Jones adds that ex-Redskins quarterback Doug Williams and former Chargers GM A.J. Smith are possibilities.

As for McCloughan himself, La Canfora hears the GM is not in rehab (he has dealt with alcohol-related issues) and has not been in rehab during his hiatus from the team. However, he has not stopped drinking since joining the Redskins in 2015, per Jones, who writes that McCloughan’s peers don’t believe that has negatively affected his work. McCloughan and Allen have been at loggerheads over several matters, details Jones, and it looks as if their inability to coexist will lead to a divorce.

Reportedly, the chaos in Washington is making the representatives of free agents question the team’s stability.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ex-Chargers GM: Team Will Stay In San Diego

The Chargers seem to be fighting an uphill battle in an effort to see their downtown stadium proposal pass on November 8. The measure failing will give them the same choices they had when it started: work with San Diego on another venture or move to Los Angeles.

Former Chargers GM A.J. Smith does not see the team relocating, even if the downtown-stadium measure fails in two months.

The Chargers aren’t going anywhere,” Smith said to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee during a radio interview (via Eric Williams of ESPN.com). “So the fear factor of the local fans, rest assured the Chargers will be here. There is no option to go to L.A.”

The Chargers’ GM from 2003-12, Smith is essentially calling the franchise’s Los Angeles leverage a bluff, saying the league and Rams owner Stan Kroenke do not want them to move to Inglewood. The Chargers reached an agreement with the Rams earlier this year but soon announced plans to go forward with a San Diego project.

That project absorbed a blow when a California Supreme Court ruling determined, for now, the measure needs a two-thirds majority rather than to merely clear the 50% threshold. As recently as last month, the Chargers have mentioned leaving for Los Angeles if the measure fails. Smith doubts the sincerity of that proclamation.

The reality is, there is no option,” he said, via Tom Krasovic of the Union-Tribune. “There is an option, but it will never be exercised. … San Diego is coveted by the National Football League and the owners. The league wants a team here. They want them to stay here.”

Even if the Chargers moved, they’d seemingly be paddling upstream since the team already saw the Rams gain publicity by moving to L.A. first earlier this year. The Chargers played in Los Angeles in 1960 but, unlike the Rams or Raiders, don’t have a connection to the city other than that.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

A.J. Smith Retires

Former Chargers GM A.J. Smith, who spent the last two seasons working as a senior executive with Washington, has decided to retire, writes Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The 66-year-old served as San Diego’s general manager from 2003 to 2012 and oversaw a number of successful Chargers teams. San Diego made the playoffs in five of Smith’s first seven seasons, and in 2004, in one of the more famous draft-day deals in recent memory, he drafted Eli Manning with the first-overall pick and traded him to the Giants for Philip Rivers and draft picks that would become Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding. In his first year on the job, Smith pulled off one of the steals of the decade, signing Antonio Gates as an undrafted free agent.

The Chargers steamrolled their way to a 14-2 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC in 2006, but after San Diego was ousted by New England in the playoffs, Smith and owner Dean Spanos made the somewhat curious decision to fire head coach Marty Schottenheimer and replace him with Norv Turner. Despite an appearance in the AFC Championship Game during Turner’s first year in San Diego, the Chargers always seemed a piece or two away from being true Super Bowl contenders over the last several years of Smith’s tenure, and Smith and Turner were both fired in 2012 after a series of underwhelming campaigns.

But Smith was hired by Washington not long after San Diego decided to go in a different direction, and Washington had considered giving him an enhanced role with club this past January. It was also reported that Smith would have been offered a front office job with the Bills had Bill Polian gone to Buffalo, so Smith’s services were still at least in some demand before he decided to call it quits.

Smith said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the National Football League. I will always cherish my time in the NFL and the friendships that developed over those many years. Looking forward to spending lots of time in Del Mar, Rhode Island, and parts unknown.”

NFC Links: Cardinals, Fairley, Cowboys, Vikings

The Oscar’s were the big story this Sunday, but in case you missed any of the NFL tidbits that spread while you were rooting for your favorite movie of the year, here are some links surrounding NFC teams:

  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com takes a look at the Cardinals salary cap situation going into the offseason. He writes that the team should be all in on 2015, and could afford to take some risks to put them over the top.
  • Cardinals running back Andre Ellington averaged only 3.3 yards per carry this past season under an increased workload, down from a fantastic 5.5 yards per carry as a rookie in 2013. The organization still believes he can be the focal point of the offense, but that he needs to get bigger and stronger in order to carry that load, writes Chris Wesseling of NFL.com
  • The Lions had a very positive interview with defensive tackle Nick Fairley at the combine today, and expressed interest in keeping him in Detroit, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • In Cowboys’ news, Kevin Sherrington of DallasNews.com suggests that the team is not dependent on a Dez Bryant deal in order to move on with other roster moves this offseason, and his colleague Rainer Sabin writes that he does not expect the franchise tag to alter Bryant’s on-field performance if the Cowboys decide to use it on him this offseason.
  • The Vikings’ front office has been looking closely at running backs in the combine, with plans to either supplement or replace Adrian Peterson depending on what happens this offseason, writes Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune.
  • Washington executive A.J. Smith will not be returning to the team, according to Zac Boyer of the Washington Times who cites a Providence Journal report (via Twitter). Boyer notes that this isn’t a surprise, as team president Bruce Allen hinted at it when Scott McCloughan was hired as the team’s general manager.

AFC Links: Rinehart, Bills, DeCosta, Dolphins

Over the course of a 2014 season in which the Chargers were plagued by injuries – particularly on the offensive line, where the team shuffled through five centers – only one player appeared in every offensive snap. As Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune observes (via Twitter), that player was left guard Chad Rinehart, who triggered a $900K escalator by playing more than 85% of the club’s snaps. Rinehart’s base salary for next season is now $3.15MM, up from $2.25MM, per Gehlken.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Had Bill Polian come to the Bills, former Chargers GM A.J. Smith would have been considered for a front office job, according to John Clayton of ESPN (via colleague Mike Rodak on Twitter). Meanwhile, Tim Graham of the Buffalo News (Twitter link) has an update on a chain of Polian-related front office gossip out of Buffalo.
  • Addressing his continuing reluctance to interview for any general manager openings, Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta explained his stance: “It’s not [a fear of becoming a GM]. I have a great owner and work with my best friends. What else could you want?” (Twitter link via Jason Cole of Bleacher Report).
  • Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald examines five issues the Dolphins must address in the offseason. Among the items on Salguero’s checklist: getting a new defensive coordinator and some offensive line help to better protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
  • As we heard earlier this week, Browns GM Ray Farmer expects Josh Gordon‘s reps to challenge his suspension so that he gets an accrued NFL season in 2014. Pat McManamon of ESPN.com takes a look at where the Gordon situation currently stands.
  • The Jaguars will be one of the more interesting teams to watch over the next few months, as they head into the winter armed with a ton of cap space and not many of their own free agents to re-sign. Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap previews the club’s offseason.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Washington, Giants

In the wake of Tom Gamble‘s departure from the Eagles, a plugged-in league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link) that “something big” could be going on in Philadelphia. Considering Gamble’s dismissal was viewed as a loss for head coach Chip Kelly in a possible power struggle with GM Howie Roseman, it’s fair to wonder if that supposed “big” development could involve Kelly.

In his latest piece for the Philadelphia Daily News, Sam Donnellon suggested that Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie need to tread carefully with Kelly, who would have plenty of options at both the NFL and college level if he were to leave Philadelphia. For now, speculation about Kelly following Gamble out the door may be premature, but there definitely seems to be a sense of unease surrounding the Eagles.

Here are a few more Friday items from out of the NFC East:

  • Washington is expected to offer an enhanced front office position to former Chargers GM A.J. Smith, according to John Clayton of ESPN.com. Clayton suggests that while Bruce Allen will remain Washington’s GM and president, Smith – who is currently a senior executive for the club – will likely become more involved in making football decisions.
  • Even if the Eagles decide they can win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles as their quarterback, the team will almost certainly provide insurance by bringing in a veteran signal-caller in free agency or drafting one early, writes Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News. A 2012 draftee, Foles is now eligible for a contract extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal, but the Eagles likely aren’t quite ready to commit to him for the long term.
  • The Giants don’t plan to be as aggressive in free agency this year as they were during their spending spree last offseason, and that’s because there’s still time for those signings – many of which were disappointing in year one – to pay off, says Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Vacchiano points to Rashad Jennings, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Beason, among others, as free agent signees who had injuries derail their first season with the Giants.