- Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Though the NFL offseason is not fully underway, the Washington Redskins are already seemingly going through a turbulent time.
In fact, as one source told MMQB’s Albert Breer, the start of Washington’s offseason has been marred by “Just a bunch of strange s—.”
At the center of it all is a bizarre situation involving general manager Scot McCloughan. According to reports, McCloughan was absent from the Draft combine last week, highly unusual for a GM.
McCloughan was reportedly attending to some family matters – possibly linked to the recent death of his 100-year-old grandmother – instead of attending the combine. However, according to Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky, McCloughan’s grandmother had passed away on February 6, and funeral services were held February 13, two weeks before the combine.
Adding to the confusion, former Washington tight end Cris Cooley wondered on his radio show – which plays on ESPN 980, which is owned by Redskins owner Daniel Synder – whether McCloughan was struggling with alcohol, as he has in the past (via ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio).
“You start to wonder, what the hell is going on here? And I start to look at this and say, ‘Do we not trust what Scot McCloughan is going to say to the media, and is that why he’s not allowed to talk to the media?’ And if we don’t trust what he’s going to say to the media, why don’t we trust what he’s going to say to the media? Now, if you look at the history of Scot McCloughan, I think the one thing that you’d immediately start to flush out as to why we don’t trust what he’s going to say is that he’s had a drinking problem over his entire career. And so you ask right away, is he drinking.”
According to The Washington Post’s Mike Jones, at the combine, other teams, executives, agents, and free agents have been puzzled by the situation in Washington. According to Jones, team president Bruce Allen said McCloughan could return for meetings soon, but some people doubt it.
“But many outsiders, namely agents of potential free agent targets, including some of Washington’s own players with expiring contracts, aren’t sold. They expressed concern that there was more to McCloughan’s absence than the Feb. 6 death of his 100-year-old grandmother. People also worried about the significance of the perceived organizational dysfunction.
“One agent who had contact with Redskins officials during the week in Indianapolis described his impression of the franchise as ‘in disarray.’ Another said, ‘I’m not exactly sure who’s in charge over there now.'”
In the meantime, the team must prepare for the draft and free agency, all while Kirk Cousins’ potential contract extension lingers over the offseason. The team recently slapped Cousins with the franchise tag for the second straight season, but there are talks over a long-term contact. If not, it’s possible that Washington could look to trade Cousins to another team with a quarterback void.
According to Breer, the team is not highly committed to Cousins:
“As for the big one, I don’t think the Skins are afraid to lose Cousins, and the reason is Colt McCoy. Is the 30-year-old McCoy a 10-year answer for Washington at the position? No. But he can be what Cousins can’t be at this point, and that’s a bridge quarterback, which is why the question isn’t Cousins versus McCoy in a vacuum. It’s the brass buying Cousins and hitching its job security to his successes and failures, versus renting McCoy while looking for a younger upgrade at the position.”
Washington has several positions of need and several prominent players hitting free agency. Two such players, wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, may be too expensive for the team to keep, according to Jones. The team reportedly plans to target second-tier free agents, which they might be reduced to anyway, because players may be scared by what looks like internal dysfunction.
Perhaps the only recent sign of stability was the two-year contract extension for coach Jay Gruden. According to The Washington Post, Gruden is the first coach to earn a contract extension in Snyder’s 18 years with the team.
With free agency just days away and the draft just two months away, the offseason is not off to a great start for Washington, which is increasingly looking like a team heading toward a messy transition period.