Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen says he reached a conclusion shortly before the new league year began: The team had to fire its general manager. That went against what he had previously said, hoping the situation with Scot McCloughan could be resolved.
“At the beginning of the league year, we needed some clarity,” Allen said Sunday night from the owners meetings.
Allen, in a series of one-on-one interviews with Washington media, addressed McCloughan’s departure for the first time since the move was made March 9, the first day of the league year. McCloughan was fired after two years with the Redskins.
Allen denied the firing had anything to do with a power struggle.
“I’ve heard all this different speculation,” Allen said. “That’s ridiculous. Scot and I have had conversations [before the firing]. We’re on the same page.
“There’s a personal side in that I brought him to the Redskins and hoped for, obviously, not just a different outcome but a better situation for him and for the Redskins. Yeah, that hurts. I do wish him the best. I like Scot. It feels like our friendship obviously will be strained.”
Allen declined to explain why he made the move. The Washington Post quoted an anonymous team official who pointed to issues with McCloughan’s drinking. Allen said he “has never partaken” in being quoted anonymously. He also pointed out his relationship with McCloughan’s brother and father.
“I had hoped it would work out better than it did,” Allen said. “I’m not going to discuss what I talked to Scot [about] in personal conversations. It didn’t work out.”
Allen said the Redskins won’t hire anyone to replace McCloughan until after next month’s draft. And he still isn’t sure whether the replacement will come from within the organization — or what the exact role will be. The Redskins have several in-house candidates who are possibilities: personnel executive Doug Williams, director of pro personnel Alex Santos, director of college scouting Scott Campbell and chief negotiator Eric Schaffer.
Allen said Campbell has been the Redskins’ point person for the draft from the start of the college all-star games and through the scouting combine earlier this month.
“I think we will be adding someone,” Allen said. “After the draft, we’ll decide … if we need a person or two.”
Allen disputed that the Redskins are a team in chaos.
“Our staff handled free agency extremely well,” Allen said. “It was organized. We were able to target certain players the coaches wanted and we were able to get them.”
The Redskins signed receiver Terrelle Pryor, safety D.J. Swearinger, and defensive linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee early in free agency. They also re-signed tight end Vernon Davis and recently signed linebacker Chris Carter and receiver Brian Quick.
One topic for the new person and/or those who remain will be the contract status of quarterback Kirk Cousins. One source said no new offers have been in the past month, and the latest offer of approximately $20 million per year did not come close to getting a deal done. Allen said the team would not trade Cousins.
Allen said he remains optimistic that Cousins will play in Washington long term.
“I’ve had a number of talks with Kirk this offseason, not specifically with his contract, but what his hopes are, his dreams,” Allen said. “Our goal is the same. We want to sign him to a long-term contract. We have him under contract this year and we have an option on it next year, the way the rules work.”
Cousins, as of now, would play the 2017 season under the franchise tag of $23.94 million. The Redskins could place the franchise tag on him for a third season at approximately $34.5 million in 2018. Or they could use the transition tag for about $28 million — but if the Redskins declined to match another team’s offer, they would receive no compensation.
Allen said he doesn’t want to trade Cousins this offseason just to get something in return if no deal appears within reach.
“No,” Allen said. “We’re focused on the 2017 season. … I’m not into the speculation game as much. We have a plan and we’re going to try and execute the plan, which includes signing him to a long-term deal, and Kirk knows that. Hopefully we can work it out.”
Allen said he has no regrets about not making an offer in 2016 that perhaps would have resulted in a long-term deal. Cousins played under the franchise tag this past season as well.
“Kirk has played well,” Allen said. “He handled the situation well. He’s gotten better each year. We’ll deal with the future in the future.”
For coach Jay Gruden, the immediate future was taken care of earlier this month when the team signed him to a two-year extension, giving him three more years on his contract. Allen said owner Dan Snyder told Gruden in January that the Redskins wanted to extend him. But serious talks didn’t take place until shortly before the combine, Allen said. The deal was finalized March 4.
“At the end of the season, Jay talked about the game plan for his coaching staff, and Dan liked the direction,” Allen said.