It took Josh Harris 102 days to put his imprint on the Washington Commanders.
Since Harris’ ownership group took control over the Commanders as the $6.05 billion deal officially closed on July 21, this season was about evaluating the whole organization. At 3-5 ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, that meant trading two starting defensive ends — Chase Young and Montez Sweat — for draft picks.
Harris and others in the ownership group, along with the team’s front office, were in “full alignment” on those deals, a source with knowledge of the matter told Front Office Sports.
“This was best to help build a team that can win over the long haul,” the source added.
It wasn’t the kind of move that former owner Dan Snyder was known for during his 24 years as owner. Snyder, despite the team only making it to the playoffs six times during his troubled tenure, never fully put the team in rebuilding mode.
But that’s where the Commanders are likely headed.
Young netted the Commanders a third-round pick from the San Francisco 49ers, and Sweat was dealt to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick. Both were in the final years of their contracts, and the picks the Commanders received were better than the compensatory ones the team would’ve gotten if they left as free agents.
The team will enter the offseason with a projected $90 million cap space — and the changes could extend beyond the roster. Head coach Ron Rivera has one more season left on his contract and continues to have a say on player personnel, including Tuesday’s trades.
Rivera is in his fourth season, and only a 7-9 2020 campaign was the Commanders’ only trip to the postseason since he arrived. He arguably had more control than any other coach on roster composition during Snyder’s reign, especially as Snyder faded into the background amid a series of investigations — including the one that led to his record $60 million fine as Harris secured the Commanders in July.
Harris entered this season in evaluation mode from the condition of FedEx Field fan amenities in Maryland to the front office in Northern Virginia.
The immediate needs of FedEx were addressed with $40 million in upgrades committed to FedEx. Building a new stadium and rebuilding the roster will take much longer.