Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal is reporting that A.J. Smith and the Washington Redskins could not work out a new deal to keep him in the organization as a Senior Executive. Smith joined the Redskins after being fired by the San Diego Chargers, in 2013. Smith spent 10 years as the Chargers General Manager. He was known for accumulating talent through the draft early in his career, but making more questionable picks in his final years as GM. Smith's role within the organization was never specified publicly, but it has been reported that his main duty has been advising on the draft.
Rumors and reports surfaced after the season ended that Smith would be taking on a bigger role with the organization, and possibly assuming the General Manager role with Bruce Allen keeping his title of Team President. Sound familiar? This structure did happen, but it was not Smith taking over the GM job. The Redskins instead went outside of the organization, and hired Scot McCloughan who had left the Seattle Seahawks the previous year and started a scouting service that the Redskins utilized for the 2014 draft.
In McCloughan's introductory press conference, Bruce Allen indicated that the team would be allowing Smith to seek other opportunities with teams with openings around the league. This seemed like the kiss of death for Smith's time with the Redskins. Then reports came out last month the the Redskins had contacted the Packers for permission to interview Alonzo Highsmith, their current Senior Personnel Executive. The Redskins were reportedly going to create a position in the front office, but that position could have easily been Smith's job. The Packers denied the team permission, and that was the only reported move the Redskins attempted to make to upgrade their scouting and personnel departments. McCloughan had said that he didn't plan on making changes until after free agency and the draft, but Highsmith seemed to be the exception to that.
According to Donaldson's report, when Smith was fired by the Chargers, he was still owed $2.2 million for each of the two remaining years on his contract. This allowed the Redskins to sign him for a reduced rate, with the Chargers already paying him a decent contract. Those contract years expire on February 28th, Smith's 66th birthday. Contract talks have not gone well according to Smith, and he is asking for more than the Redskins are willing to offer.
Did the Redskins offer him a contract that paid him a similar amount to what he was currently getting due to lack of interest? Smith is close with Bruce Allen, but doesn't have that relationship with Scot McCloughan. The new GM will work to get his people into the scouting and personnel departments, and this could mean a lot of people who have been with the organization for a long time like Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell will be fired. There is no reason to offer a deal to Smith, if he is not going to be a part of the new front office structure.
"A contract could not be worked out," Smith said Sunday morning by phone from Indianapolis, where he has been attending the NFL Combine. "I was too high. They were too low. We wished each other the very best and parted ways. Just another NFL business transaction."
Smith told Donaldson that he plans to assess his future with his family when he returns home to California. His son Kyle still works for the Redskins as a scout. He has been a scout with the team for 4 years, and currently oversees scouting in the Southeast region.
[UPDATE: 11:05 pm 2/22] Chris Russell is confirming that A.J. Smith 's time with the Redskins is over
"I'm going to take a step back and contemplate future plans with my family," Smith said before leaving Indianapolis to return to his home in Del Mar, just north of San Diego.