Adam Peters is seemingly in pole position, but have the Washington Commanders overlooked one potential candidate?
Josh Harris is moving quickly to assemble a new front office, and that is a very good thing. A lot of dominos need to fall to ensure the best possible outcome for the Washington Commanders in 2024. That begins with the hiring of someone to lead the management team, regardless of whether that job title is general manager or director of football operations.
Specific job titles and responsibilities are a work in progress. This is part of what brand new consultants Bob Myers and Rick Spielman are helping with as we speak. The only thing that matters is getting the right person in place as soon as possible. He or she will then hire a coach and they will hire a staff. After that, the crucial offseason evaluation and scouting will begin.
Commanders made Adam Peters an early priority
It is no secret that San Francisco 49ers assistant general manager Adam Peters will be at the top of a lot of teams' wish lists. The progressive front-office mind checks off every box you could want. He’s still young enough (44 years old) to stick around for a long time but has a wealth of experience.
He served as an on-the-ground scout for 10 years before moving up the ranks to directorships and was promoted to serve as John Lynch’s top lieutenant in 2021. The Niners have long been one of the best-run franchises in the NFL. Working with the general manager, Peters has helped build one of the most talented rosters in football.
Peters' relationship with Myers has only added to the speculation that he is the top choice. Washington will be interviewing other candidates, but he was the first. He is also on their reported final two alongside Ian Cunningham.
Still, this big of a hire is rarely quick or easy. There has to be a level of comfort between the manager and ownership - personally and professionally. In addition to satisfying his salary demands, Peters and Harris would need to agree on the extent of authority, budget, and general vision going forward.
ESPN analyst and former coach Rob Ryan threw another factor into the equation on Wednesday when he noted that the other advisor Harris has hired to help with the hiring process is Rick Spielman. In addition to being a former NFL general manager himself, he is the brother of Chris Spielman, who serves in a very similar advisory role with the Detroit Lions.
Ryan suggested this could lead to increased interest in current Lions coordinators Ben Johnson and Aaron Glenn. Both have been sent interview requests by the Commanders and were the first to be announced.
The Johnson news is not at all new. Everybody wants the progressive play-caller this offseason. But perhaps we should all be taking a closer look at Glenn.
Commanders would be wise to consider Ray Agnew
And maybe, as Ryan further hinted, we should also be looking at Ray Agnew.
Agnew, who thus far has not been identified as someone the Commanders intend to interview, is currently the Lions assistant general manager. He was hired into that position in 2021 when Brad Holmes got promoted to the top front-office job and the results have been remarkable. They turned over a roster that had been one of the weakest in the league and now have them in serious championship contention.
The potential Commanders' candidate has been with Holmes for a long time, dating back to their days with the Los Angeles Rams. Like Peters, Agnew has extensive experience as a scout and now has some upper executive experience as well. Like Peters, he has been around quality people for most of his career. At 56 years old, he is older but still young enough to stick around for a long time.
His management career was delayed due to his 11 years in the NFL playing on the defensive line for the New England Patriots, New York Giants, and Rams. For the first five years of his playing career, he suited up for Bill Belichick.
Beyond connecting the dots of Ryan’s report, we have no concrete indication that Agnew is on the Commanders' radar. We do know they have scheduled interviews with several other high-profile assistant general managers. And we all suspect that Peters remains at the top of their list. But Agnew is a very intriguing option.
When Agnew speaks, you are immediately struck by his enthusiasm, his humor, and genuine love for the game. I remember an answer he once gave to a question about evaluating character and football passion, explaining that he liked watching tapes of players when they were losing.
“Everybody can play hard when you’re winning,” he said. But you see character in how hard an individual tries when they know they are going to lose.
That attitude will be essential for the Commanders' next general manager. After hiring a coach, the first job will be to evaluate the current roster and figure out who stays and who goes.
Given the team’s performance last year, Peters, or Agnew, or whoever is sitting in that front office chair, will be watching a lot of players who were losing.