LANDOVER, Md. — The Washington Commanders’ offseason of uncertainty began at 7:28 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The Commanders’ possible sale will become more apparent in the coming weeks. There’s a sense among those around the league that owner Dan Snyder has checked out since he announced he was exploring options that could include a complete sale of the team on Nov. 2.
“It is going to be an interesting offseason for this organization,” said Commanders quarterback Taylor Heineke, who is among several soon-to-be free agents.
Agents interviewed by Front Office Sports over the last week don’t expect the team to make any significant changes, especially if Snyder is serious about selling. While possible, it currently appears unlikely a new owner would be in place and approved by NFL ownership by the time the new league year starts on March 15.
A good indication will be if Commanders head coach Ron Rivera survives today’s Black Monday. Rivera went 22-27-1 in his first three seasons as coach, and it’s believed there will at least be a fourth.
“I don’t see much, if any, movement with coaches,” an agent representing several coaches around the league said.
Rivera and team president Jason Wright have been out front as the team faced questions beyond what’s taken place on the field. Rivera declined to speculate about his future after Sunday’s game.
“He just lets us know that we can only control what we can control,” Commanders guard Trai Turner said of Rivera. “He doesn’t even control that type of stuff, so it’s kind of hard to talk about it.”
Snyder, never the most accessible owner in the league, has become more reclusive over the last several weeks, spending time in London with regularity. Heinicke told FOS that he’s never actually talked to Snyder in his three seasons with the team.
Snyder either kept a low profile or didn’t even attend what could have been his last game as owner, a 26-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
- There was no pregame meeting with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones before the game like the photo-op earlier in the season when the Commanders played at AT&T Stadium.
- Snyder wasn’t on the field when legendary Commanders quarterback Sonny Jergenson was recognized.
- Snyder wasn’t seen in his luxury box, and a team spokesperson declined to comment when reporters asked if he was at the game.
With last week’s loss, the Commanders failed to make the postseason for the 18th team in Snyder’s 24 seasons as an owner. The team’s 8-8-1 record makes it the 18th time the franchise finished .500 or worse under Snyder.
Fan apathy began to set in well before the slough of investigations began more than two years ago. The Commanders were third in the league in attendance (77,468 fans per game) in Snyder’s first season in 1999. They hung around the top 5 as recently as the 2016 season before attendance began to sink precipitously.
The Commanders had the second-lowest attendance in the NFL last season and would have been last this season had the Cincinnati Bengals’ crowd been factored in for last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills, according to data from Pro Football Reference. The game was suspended and then called a no-contest by the NFL in the aftermath of Damar Hamlin’s life-threatening injury last Monday night.
While the on-field product is likely the main factor, the slough of investigations certainly didn’t help.
The first probe, led by former assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Wilkinson concluded in July 2021, when Snyder stepped aside to day-to-day operations. Congress, the attorneys general in Virginia, Maryland, and DC, and a second outside inquiry by the NFL followed — and Snyder remained defiant throughout.
Using a cache of lawyers and crisis public relations professionals, Snyder fought everything from a subpoena by the House Oversight Committee to Colts owner Jim Irsay who said in October that there was “merit” to removing Snyder.
If there’s any fight left in Snyder, he hasn’t shown it for weeks.
Does that mean he will take the $7 billion or more — where Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is among the potential suitors — and sell the team that he cheered for as a child growing up in nearby Silver Spring?
“You never know what’s going to happen with Snyder,” one source told FOS.