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More changes for Washington; Chris Polian added as Director of Pro Personnel

Ron Rivera continues to reshape the Washington Football Team

Indianapolis Colts 2005 Headshots

The Washington Football Team has gone through some pretty big changes since Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen were fired in 2019. Ron Rivera was hired on New Year’s Eve and 2020 became one of the most interesting years for the team and the NFL in a very long time. Rivera started with the coaching staff last year, only retaining Special Teams Coach Nate Kaczor and Running Backs Coach Randy Jordan, while bringing in a large amount of his coaches from the Carolina Panthers.

The front office also saw some significant changes after Rivera was hired. Director of College Personnel Kyle Smith was promoted to Vice President of Player Personnel. Several executives either resigned or were fired following one of the many sexual harassment articles that came out about the franchise last year. Chief Content Officer/Senior Vice President Larry Michael retired and was replaced by Julie Donaldson. Director of Pro Personnel Alex Santos and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Richard Mann II were fired and replaced by Eric Stokes. Senior VP of Football Ops Eric Schaffer left and Rob Rogers replaced him with the title of Senior Vice President of Football Administration. The team also hired a team president to replace Bruce Allen. Jason Wright was brought in to run the business side of the franchise, and his engagement with the fan base was a breath of fresh air.

The NFL season started after a very limited offseason with no preseason games. Ron Rivera dealt with a cancer diagnosis, and treatment that affected him during practice and games. Dwayne Haskins Jr. got multiple chances to be the team’s starter, but eventually ended up being released for on and off the field reasons. Washington started 4 QBs, including the Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith. Washington won the NFC East for the first time since 2015, but lost their home playoff game the following week.

The next wave of changes started immediately after that wildcard playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Washington began their search for a new General Manager. Martin Mayhew was eventually hired as the GM, but not before it was reported that former Panthers GM Marty Hurney was getting the job. Hurney did get hired, but his official title became Executive Vice President of Football/Player Personnel. Kyle Smith left the team after not being interviewed for the promotion, and took the same job title with the Atlanta Falcons. Eric Stokes was promoted to Senior Director of Player Personnel, essentially replacing Smith in a very expected move.

That little trip down memory lane leads us to Washington’s latest change to the front office. The team announced this morning that they have hired Chris Polian as their Director of Pro Personnel. Polian has plenty of executive experience in the NFL. He’s also the son of long-time NFL GM Bill Polian.

Chris Polian Football Timeline

  • 2021: Director of Pro Personnel, Washington Football Team
  • 2013-19: Director of Pro Personnel, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • 2012: Executive Scout, Atlanta Falcons
  • 2009-11: Vice President and General Manager, Indianapolis Colts
  • 2005-09: Vice President of Football Operations, Indianapolis Colts
  • 2004: Assistant General Manager/Football Operations, Indianapolis Colts
  • 2001-03: Assistant Director of Football Operations, Indianapolis Colts
  • 1998-2000: Director of Pro Scouting, Indianapolis Colts
  • 1994-97: Personnel Assistant, Carolina Panthers

Chris Polian is being brought in to help run the pro personnel department under Eric Stokes. Washington had a productive free agent class last season with Ronald Darby, Logan Thomas, Cornelius Lucas, J.D. McKissic, and others all playing a part in the team winning the division. Polian is a former GM, and held the Director of Pro Personnel title with the Jaguars for 7 years. He has 27 years of experience in scouting and personnel. Polian will now work with Rivera, Mayhew, Hurney, and Stokes to help bring in players in a year where Washington has the 5th most available cap space, and a shrinking cap that will likely lead to a flood of talented players in the market. The team is also solidly in the market for a veteran QB, and have been rumored to be interested in multiple options since the season ended. Free agency could play a huge part in what this team looks like for the 2021 season and beyond with Washington’s new front office.