The Washington Redskins fired general manager Scot McCloughan on Thursday, a little more than two years after hiring him to revitalize their franchise.
The move followed an offseason of speculation about his future within the organization and the reasons why his issues with the team existed, with past demons perhaps haunting him again.
McCloughan was prevented from talking to the media at the Senior Bowl and did not attend the scouting combine, with the stated reason being his grandmother's death earlier in February. Team officials said they wanted McCloughan's focus on evaluating talent, but they had allowed him to talk to the media in previous offseasons, so it raised questions.
His departure marks a stunning development because of how quickly he and the team reached this point. The Redskins hired him in January 2015 after winning just seven games combined in two seasons. The Redskins have finished a combined 17-14-1 the past two years, with one NFC East title.
"The Washington Redskins have released Scot McCloughan from the organization effective immediately. We wish him success in his future endeavors. The team will have no further comment on his departure. The organization remains confident in our personnel department as we execute our free agency plans as well as prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft," team president Bruce Allen said in a statement.
During McCloughan's tenure, the Redskins were unable to work out a long-term deal with quarterback Kirk Cousins. He played under the franchise tag in 2016, and the Redskins placed the exclusive tag on him earlier this offseason. Based on multiple conversations, McCloughan considered Cousins a good quarterback, but not a great one. He was not alone in the organization with that assessment.
McCloughan's expertise was in finding personnel, but it remains uncertain how much his inability to build a stronger talent base contributed to his departure. McCloughan was fired from a similar job in San Francisco in 2010 and lost a front-office role in Seattle because of alcohol problems, which he discussed in an ESPN The Magazine article shortly before Washington hired him. They trailed him during his tenure in Washington, with multiple sources saying his drinking had become an issue again. The Washington Post reported Thursday that McCloughan would show up in the locker room drunk before games, something a Redskins player confirmed.
McCloughan has told acquaintances drinking was not an issue. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
In his first news conference with Washington, McCloughan and Allen both said the drinking issues were discussed during their interviews.
"I did talk to him about it, and we had a very forthright conversation, and we're here to support him," Allen said at the time. "And he would not be taking this job if he thought this would be a concern."
McCloughan had a mixed personnel record in Washington. His first draft produced a Pro Bowl guard with the fifth overall pick in Brandon Scherff. He also drafted a solid slot receiver in Jamison Crowder in the fourth round. But McCloughan's second-round pick, Preston Smith, has been inconsistent. Running back Matt Jones opened last season as the starter, but he lost his job by the midway point.
Last year, none of the Redskins' seven picks were full-time starters. Second-rounder Su'a Cravens was moved from being a nickel/dime linebacker to safety, where he'll play this season and likely start. First-round pick Josh Doctson appeared in two games because he injured his Achilles a month after the draft and could never shake the problem.
Of McCloughan's 17 draft picks, 13 remain on the roster and three are projected starters -- if healthy, Doctson would make that four.
The Redskins' free-agent record under McCloughan wasn't great. Two offseasons ago he signed corner Chris Culliver, end/tackle Stephen Paea, nose tackle Terrance Knighton and safety Jeron Johnson in the free-agent period (adding linebacker Junior Galette early in camp). The Redskins also traded for safety Dashon Goldson. Only Galette is still around, though he has missed two seasons after tearing both Achilles.
Last offseason, they made corner Josh Norman the highest-paid player at his position. He was a solid addition. They also signed end Kendall Reyes and safety David Bruton, both of whom were eventually released, and tight end Vernon Davis, among others.
McCloughan has worked in the NFL since joining Green Bay as a scout in 1994. Since 2000, he has held five various front-office titles with Seattle, San Francisco and Washington. He founded his own player evaluation service in 2014, the one year he spent out of the NFL.