Josh Harris

NFL Staff Rumors: Commanders, Packers, Colts, Cardinals, Rams

The Commanders had the biggest offseason front office staff change of any other franchise as Josh Harris became the new team owner in Washington. There are plenty of issues that need to be addressed throughout the organization, and surely, Harris will be getting to all of them, eventually. Early this morning, though, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports gave some insight into what may be a top priority for the new executive.

While recent rumors surfaced claiming that another change to the team’s name was imminent, Jones reports that, for now, they will remain the Commanders, as a name change “isn’t being seriously considered at this time.” While getting back to a winning culture and reconnecting with the community are certainly among the top priorities, the biggest issue is reportedly finding a new stadium to play in.

The team recently hired Thad Sheely as a consultant in the endeavor. Sheely was instrumental “in the development of MetLife Stadium more than a decade ago.” With FedEx Field routinely being considered one of the league’s worst facilities, the brass has been working with local governments in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to discuss potential sites or public funding.

The organization would ideally like to have a site selected by the end of 2024, while the construction of a stadium that can “host major events like a Final Four and Super Bowl would take about four years” more. The team’s current lease at FedEx Field is active through 2026.

Here are some other recent staff updates from around the NFL:

  • The Packers announced the addition of Maureen Smith as the team’s new chief financial officer last month. Smith comes to the NFL from the MLS, where she most recently served as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Minnesota United FC. Beginning her career as a CPA in public accounting, Smith now has “more than 20 years of diverse experience across the sports, healthcare, consulting, and finance industries.
  • The Colts made an effort at the end of August to replace the analytics value lost in John Park‘s departure for Dallas and George Li‘s departure for Carolina. Indianapolis hired Greg Starek as their new director of football analytics, according to Nate Atkins of the Indy Star. Starek joined the 49ers last year as a senior performance analyst after a career as a data scientist for the San Francisco Giants of the MLB. He’ll continue to carve out his space in the NFL in Indy.
  • The Cardinals brought in a new executive to focus on the business side of the team last month. According to Cardinals director of editorial content and senior writer Darren Urban, Jeremy Walls is that new executive, serving as the team’s new chief operating officer. Walls most recently spent the last several years in Miami with the Dolphins.
  • The Rams experienced a departure in their staff near the end of last month, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Former director of football affairs Jacques McClendon has left the team to join the WME Sports agency. McClendon will now be an agent working in the agency’s coaches and executives division.

Commanders Owner Discusses Ron Rivera’s Job Security

When Josh Harris took over ownership of the Commanders, many pundits immediately questioned the job status of head coach Ron Rivera. It seemed unlikely that the new ownership group would remove their head coach weeks before the season, but some have questioned if the organization could look elsewhere after the 2023 campaign.

[RELATED: NFL Approves Josh Harris As Commanders Owner]

For what it’s worth, Harris gave Rivera a vote of confidence earlier this week while speaking with reporters. The Commanders owner commended the coach’s leadership and experience, but he also acknowledged that wins will dictate Rivera’s job security.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Coach Rivera,” Harris said (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post). “He’s a good man. He’s done a great job getting the team to where it is relative to where it was when he got that. We’ve said, ‘We’re getting up to speed. We want to hear how you think, we want to learn how you make decisions.’ And it’s going really well. Everyone who coaches an NFL team or an NBA team, and us as owners, … we all realize that ultimately we have to deliver wins on the field, so you don’t really need to say anything. It’s just out there. But so far, so good.”

Following an underwhelming end to his nine-year stint with the Panthers, Rivera caught on with Washington in 2020. He’s spent the past three seasons with the organization, although only one of those campaigns has resulted in a .500 record. In total, Rivera holds a 22-27-1 record during his time as Washington’s head coach.

Harris will surely be looking for the Commanders organization to return to the postseason, and anything short could put Rivera’s job in jeopardy. The same could likely be said of general manager Martin Mayhew, although he might have a longer leash since he was brought in prior to the 2021 season.

This isn’t the first time that Rivera has dealt with a change in ownership. David Tepper took over ownership of the Panthers prior to the 2018 campaign. Rivera ended up lasting more than one season in Carolina, but he was fired before the 2019 campaign concluded.

Rivera actually lasted the longest among the recent head coaches who experienced ownership changes (h/t to Nathaniel Hackett, of course, didn’t even last a full season as the Broncos head coach after Rob Walton took over ownership last August. The Pegulas and Doug Marrone broke up less than three months after the Bills changed hands, while the Haslam’s let Pat Shurmur finish the 2012 season with the Browns before moving on. Mike Mularkey got a full year with the Jaguars when Shahid Khan took over, but he was unsurprisingly fired following a two-win campaign.

Latest On Commanders Extension Talks, Front Office Moves

The Commanders have a number of players heading into contract years, including Montez Sweat and Chase Young. We previously heard that the team’s talks with Sweat were on hold following Josh Harris‘ purchase of the team, but Ron Rivera hinted that extension talks with impending free agents could soon resume.

[RELATED: Commanders’ Montez Sweat Extension Plans On Hold]

Speaking to reporters (including ESPN’s John Keim), the Commanders head coach revealed that the coaching staff and front office continues to prepare for negotiations as ownership settles.

“There’s a lot to do,” Rivera said. “To assume anything will happen immediately is unfair; they are still learning and understanding us. We’re still talking with them and trying to get things lined up and in order.”

While the two pass rushers are the most notable players with expiring contracts, the Commanders have other extension-worthy players. This grouping includes running back Antonio Gibson, cornerback Kendall Fuller, and wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

Among the team’s impending free agents, Sweat seems like the most likely to re-sign. Keim previously noted that the Commanders would like to extend the edge rusher. Young’s future with the team is in question after the organization declined the former second-overall pick’s fifth-year option. The Commanders will presumably let Young play out the 2023 campaign before deciding how to proceed.

While the team may be taking their time with player extensions, the Commanders have been busy adding to their front office. With Harris officially taking over the organization, the owner has made his first splash, hiring Craig Fischer as CFO (per Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske of the Washington Post). Meanwhile, former Atlanta Hawks COO/MetLife Stadium visionary Thad Sheely has been brought on as a consultant, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Jhabvala adds (on Twitter) that Sheely has been brought in to advise “on real estate and stadium matters.”

NFL Approves Josh Harris As Commanders Owner

JULY 21: The sale has gone through, as first reported by Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal (on Twitter). Harris is now in place to move forward with his latest venture as a new era dawns for the Commanders.

JULY 20: The Commanders’ sale process has officially reached its conclusion. NFL owners approved the purchase of the franchise by Josh Harris during their special league meeting on Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

To no surprise, the vote amongst the owners was unanimous, something which has been expected throughout this process and which was recommended by the finance committee earlier this week. Today’s news marks a turning point for a franchise which has been plagued by scandals and poor on-field performances, while adding a highly-experienced member to the ownership ranks. Harris will acquire his hometown team for a record-shattering price of $6.05 billion.

Outgoing owner Dan Snyder had insisted on multiple occasions before the 2022 season that he would never sell the Commanders. That mindset began to shift in the fall, however, when reports indicated he had gathered dirt on other owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with the aim of protecting himself against potential removal from his position. Colts owner Jim Irsay was particularly vocal about the desire on the part of at least some of his peers to explore what would have been an unprecedented step in voting to ouster Snyder.

Instead, Snyder began the process of exploring a sale and, soon after, bids began to come in. Harris – the runner-up to Rob Walton when the Broncos were sold last summer – quickly emerged as a serious contender to purchase the Commanders. Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta also submitted bids, though many expected Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to be the favorite in this process. Instead, the latter was officially out of the running as of April.

Snyder and Harris (who also owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and had been a minority owner in the Steelers) entered into a signed, exclusive sales agreement in May. That began the vetting process for Harris and his large group of investors – one which includes NBA legend Magic Johnson, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Danaher Corporation co-founder Mitchell Rales. The size of Harris’ investment group, along with issues related to financing the bid, emerged as matters which needed to be smoothed out.

As that process took place, attention turned to Snyder’s status as the subject of an ongoing investigation into the Commanders’ workplace culture and allegations of financial wrongdoing. Revelations on that front further soured other owners’ opinions of Snyder, and the matter of indemnification soon emerged as a key talking point. The 58-year-old sought legal protection from the fallout of league investigator Mary Jo White’s final report. Negotiations took place through to last week, with a potential roadblock emerging to the sale going through.

Harris has indeed been rubber-stamped as owner, though, leaving Snyder with a hefty financial penalty on his way out of the league. The latter has been fined $60MM in the wake of White’s full report being made public, as Goodell repeatedly insisted would be the case (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). Snyder was found to have withheld $11MM in revenue from the league’s other teams, and to have sexually harassed a team employee, Schefter tweets.

“The conduct substantiated in Ms. White’s findings has no place in the NFL,” Goodell said in a statement (via Pelissero’s colleague Mike Garafolo, on Twitter). “We strive for workplaces that are safe, respectful and professional. What [former Commanders staffer] Ms. Johnston experienced is inappropriate and contrary to the NFL’s values.”

Snyder’s fine will resolve all outstanding issues with the NFL, putting an end to his 24-year ownership tenure. Harris will be tasked with turning the page for one of the league’s most historic teams, one which has seen little in the way of regular or postseason success in the past quarter-century. He should be in place as owner in time for the opening of training camp next week, though he is not expected to make signficant front office or coaching changes immediately upon arrival in his new position.

Thursday’s news marks a new high-mark in terms of franchise valuation, and has seen the league go to unprecedented lengths in terms of discipline of an owner. This lengthy saga has now crossed the finish line, however, with cause for optimism in place in the nation’s capital moving forward.

“From day one, it is our top priority to deliver you a championship caliber team, and we will strive every day to ensure that we are a franchise you can be proud of,” a statement from Harris reads in part. “To Commanders fans everywhere, our promise is simple: we will do the work, create the culture and make the investment needed to deliver for this team and for Washington.”

NFL Finance Committee Recommends Approval Of Commanders Sale

JULY 20: In advance of the finance committee’s in-person meeting, Maske and Jhabvala noted that its informal vote produced a 7-0 result. As a result, confidence remains high that the full owners’ meeting will produce a unanimous approval of the sale later today.

JULY 18: In advance of the special league meeting during which owners will vote on the proposed sale of the Commanders to Josh Harris, the NFL’s finance committee has set the stage for ratification. An informal meeting amongst the group removed the two remaining potential obstacles to approval.

Mark Maske and Nicki Jhavbala of the Washington Post report that the finance committee gathered remotely and conducted a ‘straw poll’ on the matter of the impending $6.05 billion sale from Dan Snyder to Harris. Not all eight members took part, but the result amongst those who did was a unanimous recommendation of approving the sale. When all league owners meet in person on Thursday in Minneapolis, the expectation remains that the Harris purchase will go through.

A potential roadblock to that development emerged last week, with the issue of indemnification relating to Snyder and the rest of the league regarding the ongoing Jon Gruden lawsuit representing a threat to the sale. On that point, though, the Post reports that an agreement has been reached which will resolve the matter, paving the way for approval of the sale. That process will see the record for North American sports franchise sales broken for the second consecutive summer, and allow Harris to add an NFL team to his name (in addition to the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils).

An official vote by the finance committee is set to take place on Thursday not long before the full league meeting. Owners are expected to follow the committee’s recommendation, and there has been little to no doubt during this process that the minimum 24 ‘yes’ votes will be attained for the sale to go through. Ratification will pave the way for Harris’ group to assume control of the franchise in time for the opening of training camp next week.

Notably, the Post report adds that Snyder recently spoke with investigator Mary Jo White concerning her ongoing investigation into him and the Commanders. The much-anticipated report from White could be released shortly after the sale goes through, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has committed to making the findings public. The league has received renewed pressure to release the report upon completion, and Snyder’s remarks will no doubt be a point of interest once they are revealed.

With the ratification vote still on track, the Snyder era remains set to come to an end later this week. Harris is not expected to make any substantial changes upon taking charge of the franchise, one which will again be the subject of plenty of attention in the coming days.

No Issues Expected In Upcoming Commanders Sale Vote

July 20 looms as the date at which NFL owners will convene to vote on the sale of the Commanders to Josh Harris. Issues with his historic bid to purchase the franchise have been detailed in recent months, but they are not poised to interrupt or threaten the sale being approved.

Last month, the NFL scheduled a special league meeting for July (the earlier of the two proposed dates) to bring the sales process across the finish line. As has been the case since Harris entered into an exclusive agreement with outgoing owner Dan Snyder, the expectation remains that the league’s finance committee will provide a unanimous recommendation for the owners to approve the sale.

On that point, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that the situation is “right on course” as the vote approaches. Concerns have been raised with respect to matters such as financing Harris’ $6.05 billion purchase (comfortably the largest sum paid for a North American sports franchise) and the size of his investment group, but the league has been eager to smooth them over in their attempt to oust the embattled Snyder. The ratification vote taking place as planned would, of course, mean the outstanding problems concerning the Harris takeover have been fully resolved.

Another matter to monitor is the status of the Mary Jo White report into the Commanders’ workplace and allegations of financial improprieties. With the ratification vote imminent, the league is facing a new round of pressure to release the findings of the report, something commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly committed to doing. The same was not true of the Beth Wilkinson-led investigation into Snyder and the team in 2021, one which resulted in a fine and suspension for the much-maligned owner.

With the transition to Harris all-but assured, questions have also been raised regarding the organizational changes the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner could make. The team’s front office and coaching staff appear to be safe for now, as Harris may be best suited to take a patient evaluation approach while coming into power not long before the start of his first season at the helm. His tenure as owner should still be expected to commence later this month with no hurdles left to clear.

Josh Harris Not Expected To Make Major Changes Following Commanders Sale

Josh Harris will officially become the Commanders owner later this month. While Daniel Snyder‘s sale of the team will surely have a long-lasting impact on the organization, the new owner isn’t expected to make any immediate changes.

[RELATED: Date Set For Vote On Commanders Sale Ratification]

According to Ben Standig of The Athletic, Harris isn’t expected to “make major staff changes” when he officially takes over the organization. This includes the job status of team president Jason Wright, with a source telling Nicki Jhabvala and Mark Maske of the Washington Post that Wright will “absolutely have the opportunity to perform in his role.”

Wright was hired by the Commanders in 2020, becoming the first Black team president in NFL history. As Jhabvala and Maske write, the executive was hired to “improve the workplace culture of a franchise embroiled in controversy,” and Wright did help navigate the organization through multiple investigations and eventual “senior business personnel” overhauls.

The team president has also faced criticism, mostly when it comes to near-league-bottom ticket sales over the past two years. Wright also drew some ire when it came to the Commanders’ “missteps in honoring the late Sean Taylor, a bounced raffle check and the tepid public response to its new name.”

Harris isn’t expected to shake things up, at least right away. Per Standig, the owner intends to “take his time to evaluate current staff before considering changes.” This buys executives like Wright some extra time to build a rapport with their new boss, but as Standig points out, Harris surely has “a list of potential executives to join him in Washington.”

It sounds like Harris also won’t make any rash decisions when it comes to the coaching staff and front office, including head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew. Of course, considering the timing of the sale, it seemed extremely unlikely that Harris would shake up those two areas of the operation with training camp rapidly approaching.

A league meeting has been scheduled for July 20 to ratify the Commanders sale. As the Washington Post notes, Harris and his group aren’t allowed to “to speak with employees of the team about future changes” until that time.

Date Set For Vote On Commanders Sale Ratification

Not long after a pair of dates were provided to NFL owners as possible days on which a special league meeting could take place to ratify the sale of the Commanders, one has been agreed upon. The final step in the sales process now appears to be in place.

A league meeting has been scheduled for July 20, as detailed by Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. That represents the earlier of the two possible dates floated last week (August 8 being the other), and could allow the sale to be approved in time for the opening of training camps around the league. The Commanders’ camp opens on July 26.

It is expected the league’s finance committee will provide a unanimous recommendation to approve the sale, the Post report adds. The committee met at length with prospective owner Josh Harris and investment group member Mitchell Rales earlier this month to discuss the outstanding issues with the proposed purchase agreement. The number of investors and an ability to remain under the league’s debt ceiling have been causes for concern during the vetting process, but the scheduling of the ratification vote suggests they will have been smoothed out by next month.

Harris and current owner Dan Snyder reached an exclusive agreement on a sale in May. The $6.05 billion price tag will comfortably surpass that of Rob Walton‘s Broncos purchase last summer and thus set a new North American sports record for franchise sales. It will also represent an end to Snyder’s much-maligned tenure at the helm of the Commanders, one which has been marked by a number of investigations into toxic work environments and financial improprieties.

A probe led by NFL investigator Mary Jo White into Snyder and the Commanders remains ongoing, but it could conclude in time for the ratification vote. The findings of that investigation are set to be made public, and the Post notes that they could result in commissioner Roger Goodell imposing a fine on the team. Issues of indemnity regarding Snyder and the other owners have been a sticking point over several months, but the eagerness to remove the former from the league has long been a driving force during the sales process.

At least 24 votes will be required to approve the sale to Harris’ ownership group, something which has not been in doubt since he and Snyder first entered into a purchase agreement. With the finance committee set to compete its vetting process and present a ‘yes’ recommendation to the full slate of owners in the coming weeks, the finish line in this process is firmly in sight.

Dates Emerge For Ratification Vote On Commanders Sale

The next round of NFL owners’ meetings are not on tap until October, but the league is making preparations for a special session regarding the Commanders sale.

Owners have been informed to be available on July 20 or August 8 for a meeting that would include a ratification vote, according to the SportsBusiness Journal’s Ben Fischer (Twitter link). Vetting of Josh Harris‘ Commanders purchase is ongoing, but dates emerging certainly points to confidence the sale will be ratified by one of these two dates. Roger Goodell said recently he expects the sale to be ratified, providing a rather clear indication the item will meet the required 24 votes to pass.

Harris, who agreed to terms with Dan Snyder to buy the Commanders for a record-shattering $6.05 billion, has said he is willing to work with the league on a more amenable deal structure. Issues concerning the amount of debt held by the potential new owner, as well as some tax and incentive matters, have arisen. But the NFL owners have long been eager to finalize Snyder’s exit, opening the door for the large Harris-headed ownership group.

Harris is not believed to need to make many adjustments to his bid structure, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). He and group member Mitchell Rales met with the NFL’s eight-man finance committee last week, and the meeting is believed to have gone well. Signs continue to point to the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner adding an NFL team to his portfolio before the start of the season.

The NFL most recently held a special session last August — for the ratification of Rob Walton‘s summer 2022 Broncos purchase. That did not encounter any speedbumps, and owners approved the Walton group’s acquisition just less than two months after the $4.65 billion bid arrived. Harris’ more complex bid structure has brought a slower-moving vet. He reached a nonexclusive agreement with Snyder in mid-April, and the parties came to terms on the exclusive deal — one the NFL is still vetting — May 12. If the NFL calls the meeting for July 20, the time between the Harris purchase and ratification will not end up being much longer than Walton’s.

Walton’s $70 billion-plus in net worth provided no liquidity-driven complications, whereas Harris’ net worth (estimated at just more than $6 billion) has required a number of investors. A prospective primary owner must be able to furnish 30% of the total sales price in cash at the time of the purchase, and while this component has added to the finance committee’s task, it would still be a shock if Harris was not ratified as the new Washington owner. While this bid structure might not be approved under normal circumstances, the owners’ chance to end Snyder’s increasingly scandal-ridden tenure running a franchise has long superseded concerns pertaining to the bid.

Latest On Sale Of Commanders

In one of our most recent updates on the situation, we mentioned a meeting between Josh Harris and the NFL owners finance committee set to take place today. The meeting with the eight-member committee did, in fact, occur today, and according to Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post, it went very well.

Harris attended the meeting with fellow investor Mitchell Rales. Rales, co-founder of the Danaher Corporation, is one of the group’s top investors and reportedly holds favor with the committee. Other reported investors include South American billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo, whose family’s portfolio includes the likes of Anhueser-Busch InBev, Chilean bank Corpbanca, and Spanish bank Inmobiliaria Colonial, ex-CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, chair of the DC Open tennis tournament Mark Ein, and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

The meeting was intended to be an opportunity for Harris to address a number of issues the committee had with his most recent proposal, namely issues concerning the amount of debt held by the potential new owner, as well as some tax and incentive issues. Maske and Jhabvala reported that the two and a half hour meeting “was productive and, barring any unforeseen setbacks, the sale is advancing toward expected ratification by the league’s team owners as soon as next month.”

In the meeting, Harris was apparently very cooperative and “continued to pledge to make the requested adjustments to his deal.” The impending ratification is contingent on Harris meeting those requests, but everyone around the situation seems nearly certain that he will be able to do that.

The next owners’ meeting isn’t scheduled to take place until October, but a call for a special session is expected to take place to assist the progress of the sale. The special session could take place as soon as late July and would require approval from 24 of the league’s 32 owners. The approval is not a main concern, as the owners generally follow the finance committee’s recommendations in situations like the sale of a franchise. The vote, theoretically, could be taken remotely, but for important matters such as this, the league tends to prefer an in-person meeting.

Part of the rush comes from the exclusivity of the deal. Harris reached a signed, exclusive agreement with current owner Dan Snyder on May 12, following the submission of a nonexclusive version of the deal to the NFL for an informal review. The exact number isn’t known but the time limit on Harris’ exclusivity is estimated to be either 60 or 90 days. Seeing as the next scheduled owners’ meeting is far beyond that deadline, the special session becomes crucial.

So, to this point, Harris and the finance committee have come to an agreement as to what will make the deal acceptable. The finance committee will meet several more times virtually to ensure that things are on track and a vote will hopefully be taken in the next 60 days. The owners are reportedly eager to approve the deal and oust Snyder, but they need Harris to meet their demands. The finish line is coming more and more into focus with each report and seems just on the horizon.