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Adam Peters will bring ability to build relationships 'to new heights' as Commanders GM


Adam Peters has been charged with breathing new life into the Washington Commanders franchise as the team's new general manager, and he might be the most qualified person for the task.

Peters, who's played a role in building franchises for the last 21 years, has had success at every stop in his career. He's helped bring in Pro Bowlers and All-Pros to the Patriots, Broncos and 49ers because of his eye for talent, thorough approach to evaluating prospects and desire for an aligned vision with head coach. All those qualities helped convince Managing Partner Josh Harris that it was an "easy decision" to hire him away from San Francisco.

As important as it is to understand all the football-centric aspects that are involved in deciding which players are a good fit for the roster, one ability that gets mentioned when talking about Peters is his knack for building relationships with players, coaches and staff members. That might not appear in the job description, but it matters to Peters.

"I think it's important with anybody to establish a connection with somebody you're working with," Peters said on a recent episode of "Command Center." "To have a trust, to have a bond, to be able to have hard conversations."

Peters has done just about everything in his career as an NFL executive, but this is the first time he'll be running the show, and with a franchise that's got 91 years of history no less. Washington hasn't had a winning season since 2016, and every bit of Peters' expertise will be tested as he tried to revive the franchise. That includes being able to look beyond the stats to find the right players for his vision.

"It will be even more important in the role he's in now," 49ers general manager John Lynch said of Peters. "He'll have to even bring that to new heights in this role."

Relatability isn't necessarily a requirement for successful general managers. There have certainly been front office executives over the years who either didn't interact much with players or didn't place it in high regard. Lynch called it "old school," and perhaps that method had its place in the NFL 20 years ago.

But Lynch doesn't believe that works well, and it isn't how Peters does things. He prefers to develop personal relationships to let players know that he can be relied upon. That takes time to earn, Peters said, but it creates a stronger bond so that everyone can work towards the same goal.

"I think the days of having personnel and coaches over here and players over here, those days are over," Peters said. "And I don't think they were ever right to begin with. To be able to have that relationship with our players where we can have the great times together and go through hard times together and come out of it the same way, that's really important to me."

Players understand the nature of the business they're in. They know their value to the team is judged on how much they can win, and at some point, your future isn't in your control. At the same time, players want to have confidence, not just that the team is going hold up their end of the bargain, but also that they're making meaningful contributions to the ultimate goal.

There is no such grey area with Peters. He takes a straightforward approach to addressing players. He's blunt, but players appreciate it because they know exactly what is expected of them.

"One way to do that is just the ability to communicate and tell them very bluntly, 'Here's what we're trying to do. Here's how we're trying to do it,'" Lynch said. "You bring them in the process and tell them, 'Here's what we stand for.' I think it goes a long way. And it's critical."

As Peters continues his search for the Commanders' next head coach, the ability to relate will be a trait that he values in candidates. Finding someone who he can work well with will be important, but that needs to permeate with whoever the head coach interacts with in the organization.

"That's the next step in this process, identifying those traits that we're looking for, identifying those qualities and then finding the best candidate that fits those," Peters said.

Assuming Peters and the Commanders find a coach that has that ability to build relationships, it'll help with satisfying one of the qualities that Peters values: working together with an aligned vision to figure out how to improve the roster. Fortunately, there's plenty of tools for Washington to do that with cap space in free agency and nine draft picks, five of which will be in the top 100.

To do so, Peters, the head coach and their staff will need to be in "constant communication," expressing their opinions on why a player could, or could not, be a good fit for what they want to do. 

"We're all one," Peters said. "When we make a decision, we're coming out of that room unified. It's not that the coaches pick that guy, the scouts pick that guy. We're all in that together."

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