• Washington Post

Washington Commanders set to Hire Adam Peters as General Manager

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders helmet on the field during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field

The Washington Commanders are set to hire Adam Peters as their new general manager, according to a person with knowledge of the hire, making him the team’s primary football executive as it rebuilds its front office and coaching staff under new owner Josh Harris.

Widely regarded as one of the top talent evaluators in the NFL, Peters, 44, is one of Harris’s first major hires and will be charged with reviving a team that has not posted a winning record in seven consecutive seasons.

After more than two decades of steadily climbing the NFL ranks, Peters gets his first shot at being a GM amid what figures to be a sweeping overhaul of Washington’s operations and staff while giving the franchise one of the more coveted up-and-coming executives of recent years.

Previously the San Francisco 49ers’ assistant general manager, Peters interviewed twice for the New York Giants’ GM vacancy in 2022 and turned down interviews with the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans last year. The Las Vegas Raiders also sought to interview him this year before he agreed to terms with the Commanders.

Harris, whose group bought the team from Daniel Snyder for $6.05 billion in July, said Monday the Commanders had been thinking for a while about the top candidates for the executive role. The hope was to hire a GM quickly and then to “listen very hard to what that person wants to do in terms of the coaching staff.”

“In other words, those two things have to work together,” Harris added. “And obviously, as I’ve said before, I want to get the best talent here and then hold them accountable and work with them, right? So what that person wants to do or not do is really important in our decision process.”

Peters, a Bay Area native and former UCLA defensive end, has 21 years of NFL personnel and front-office experience and a well-decorated résumé, with three Super Bowl victories, six conference championships and 13 division titles.

He started his NFL career with New England as a scouting assistant (2003-2004) and then a pro scout (2005) before spending three seasons as an area scout (2006-2008). In his first two seasons, the Patriots won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.

He went on to spend eight seasons with the Denver Broncos, quickly climbing the ranks from regional scout (2009-2010) to national scout (2011-2013) to assistant director of college scouting (2014-2015) to director of college scouting (2016).

In Denver, Peters had a hand in building the most prolific offense in NFL history – the 2013 Broncos set numerous records, including points (606) and passing yards (5,572) in a season – then helped the franchise build a defense that led to a Super Bowl win. As a key figure in the personnel department under then-GM John Elway, Peters helped the team acquire 27 players through the draft and free agency who were prominent members of that Super Bowl 50 roster, including pass rusher Von Miller, cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby, and running back C.J. Anderson. In his final season with Denver, he helped land third-round defensive back Justin Simmons, who has become one of the league’s top safeties.

“I know how trusted he was by John and [then Broncos director of player personnel] Matt [Russell] and everyone in the organization and was recognized as a good evaluator,” said Broncos director of college scouting Brian Stark, who worked with Peters for six seasons in Denver. “I’ve seen firsthand a lot of the players that he was high on and voiced his opinion for that have ended up being really good players.”

Stark recalled how Peters was especially good at building relationships with and managing his scouts. During the Broncos’ trip to the Bay Area for Super Bowl 50, Peters organized a trip for the scouting staff to go on a wine tasting.

When John Lynch left Fox Sports to become the 49ers’ GM in 2017, he made Peters his first hire – without even interviewing him – as vice president of player personnel.

“In certain rooms, you can tell when certain people are allowed to speak, and Adam was one of those guys they wanted to hear from,” Lynch said in 2017. “I remember saying to John [Elway], ‘Hey, this guy’s good, huh?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, very good.’ ”

“Bill Belichick kind of gives praise grudgingly,” Lynch added, “and he thinks very highly of Adam.”

Peters has been Lynch’s right-hand man since, helping San Francisco build a talent-laden roster that won the NFC championship in 2019 and the NFC West title the past two seasons. This season, nine 49ers players were selected to the Pro Bowl, and five were voted to the Associated Press’s all-pro first team.

In Washington, he inherits a situation ripe for a reboot. The Commanders are projected to have the most salary cap space in the league and have five picks in the first three rounds of the April draft, including the second overall selection. They also have an ownership group clearly willing to spend, a fan base that helped sell out FedEx Field for every home game last season, and the prospect of a new stadium and practice facility in the coming years.

“We’re looking for the best people to build an elite franchise that’s going to consistently compete and win championships,” Harris said Monday. “… From my point of view, we are coming out of this poised for a great future.”

The roles and titles of others currently on Washington’s staff – including Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney, who last season served as GM and executive vice president of football/player personnel, respectively – will be discussed in the days ahead, according to the person with knowledge of Peters’s hire. Harris hired Craig Fischer as the team’s chief financial officer early in his tenure, and during the season Harris appointed Eugene Shen as the team’s senior vice president of football strategy.

Washington conducted an expedited search led by Harris, consultants Bob Myers and Rick Spielman, and limited partners Mitch Rales, Magic Johnson and David Blitzer. The committee held interviews with at least five candidates at Harris’s home offices in Miami and virtually, and the team hired Peters four days after parting with former coach and de facto primary executive Ron Rivera.

Peters beat out four other assistant GMs – Chicago’s Ian Cunningham, Philadelphia’s Alec Halaby, Kansas City’s Mike Borgonzi and Cleveland’s Glenn Cook – but appeared to be the group’s leading candidate from the jump because of his record of success.

Harris’s enlistment of Myers, the former Golden State Warriors executive, may have bolstered the team’s chances of landing Peters. Myers also attended UCLA, is also Bay Area native and is said to be friendly with Peters. Furthermore, Myers was on the agency side of the business for 14 years, including five with Wasserman Media Group – the same agency that represents Peters.

But connections alone would not have sealed the deal.

Harris, who regularly has tapped outside experts for advice and guidance in his business decisions, interviewed five candidates over the span of three days, narrowing the list to a final pair: Peters and Cunningham. As the Commanders finalized their GM selection, they also began interviewing prospective head coaches virtually, almost a must given the NFL’s hiring and interview rules during the postseason. The team spoke with Baltimore Ravens assistant head coach/defensive line Anthony Weaver on Thursday, according to two people with knowledge of the interview.

The Commanders also have requested interviews with Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Houston Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, multiple people said.

Selecting one will be Harris’s next major decision for the franchise, but it will be made with Peters’s input.

“He’s about as prepared as someone can be for that role,” Stark said. “… The experiences he’s had at three different winning organizations, he’s been around a lot of really successful people in the field – I would be surprised if he didn’t have a lot of success there.”