The Washington Football Team's front office added about half a century's worth of experience with the hiring of Martin Mayhew as general manager and Marty Hurney as executive vice president of football/player personnel.
Mayhew, who had a four-year stint with the team as a player and won a Super Bowl, returns to Washington with 20 years in various front offices under his belt. Hurney comes back to the team where his career began with 28 years of knowledge, including 15 years with the Carolina Panthers and four-plus seasons with head coach Ron Rivera.
Together, they bring a bountiful trove of knowledge, talent and well-stocked resumes to Washington. They are on board with the franchise's coach-centric approach and intend to work closely with Rivera to improve on the promising roster at their disposal.
"This is all positive," NFL analyst Charley Casserly told Senior Vice President of Media and Content Julie Donaldson on an episode of "Washington Football Today," which airs every weekday at 5:30 and 10 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. "Ron Rivera rebuilt the culture, he taught them how to win. He's got a lot of young players that got experience who now are ready for the next step this year, and he's bringing in two experienced personnel people."
For Casserly, Mayhew's rise to Washington's general manager is something he envisioned all the way back in 1999 when he held the title with the team. After his retirement in 1996, Casserly hired Mayhew as a personnel intern "to groom him into a general manager."
Casserly did not get a chance to spend meaningful time with Mayhew in Washington since he left the team shortly after hiring Mayhew, but he did follow his career and got to see Mayhew's potential be realized elsewhere, particularly with the Detroit Lions as general manager. He took over a team that had finished the 2008 season 0-16 and drastically overhauled the franchise by adding quarterback Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the No. 2 overall pick in the next draft.
The rebuild took time, but with a mix of draft picks and free agent additions like Golden Tate and Glover Quin, Detroit went from the worst team in the league to a playoff contender by going 10-6 in 2011 and 11-5 in 2014.
"He has experience in all areas," Casserly said. "Administration, contract negotiations, salary cap, player personnel -- pro and college. This is a guy who was in the first XFL and ran operations for them. So, a wide variety of experience, not an ego guy, a team guy, and obviously has some tradition here, so he kind of appreciates what he's walking into here."
Mayhew did the same thing with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. The team was 2-14 and in need of a rebuild, and with general manager John Lynch taking on the role for the first time in his career, he hired Mayhew as a senior personnel executive.
Lynch and Mayhew worked together to rework the team's roster. They slowly built the 49ers' defensive line into the dominant force it became by drafting Solomon Thomas with their first pick and trading for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. By the start of the 2019 season, Mayhew had been promoted to vice president of player personnel, and the team was prepared to go on a Super Bowl run.
Casserly said that San Francisco, like Washington, is a coach-centric team, so Mayhew already knows how to operate in that kind of culture. That experience will prove to be valuable with Mayhew reporting directly to Rivera.
"He will be an integral part of running the daily football operations and will allow me the opportunity to focus more on coaching," Rivera said. "He impressed both myself and Mr. Snyder during the interview process and we both believe he will be a tremendous fit here. He is a man of high character and integrity and was part of the rich history and tradition of this great franchise as a member of the Super Bowl championship team in 1991."
While Mayhew went to the Super Bowl as a player, Hurney has been to two as a general manager, both of which came with the Panthers, and one as an executive with the Chargers franchise. Hurney made critical moves in two different tenures in Carolina to turn the team into a contender -- in fact, Rivera credits Hurney for bringing in the majority of pieces that helped Carolina get to Super Bowl 50 -- but one area he has excelled in is first-round picks. He has a long list of reputable selections, including Julius Peppers, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, all three of whom won Rookie of the Year honors.
"Marty Hurney is an excellent evaluator of talent and someone whom I trust and have worked with in the past," Rivera said. "He knows the amount of hard work it takes to operate a successful personnel department. Marty has a proven track record as a successful scout and general manager and will be a vital part of shaping our roster."
Hurney learned from former Washington and Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, which gave him the experience needed to update Panthers rosters through various trades. He brought in tight end Greg Olsen, who was selected to three Pro Bowls with the team, and before that he signed quarterback Jake Delhomme, who led the Panthers to a Super Bowl in 2004 and is currently second in franchise history for passing yards and passing touchdowns.
And thanks to his past experience working with Rivera, he is already on the same page with the head coach. That, Casserly said, is huge.
"He can translate things when things have to get translated. When the coach talks about something and maybe somebody doesn't understand it, he's the 'go-between.' You got a rock solid guy."
Washington was in need of a general manager this offseason, and while Mayhew will have the general manager title, Rivera has brought in two executives with experience in the role. Both will report to Rivera, but improving Washington's roster, which was good enough to more than double its win total from 2019 and win the NFC East, will be a collaborative effort.
There are still some steps needed for turning what is now a division-winning team into a perennial playoff contender, but having Mayhew and Hurney working towards realizing that goal is a good place to start.
"What you have here is two proven general managers who don't have egos," Casserly said. "And the guy in charge is the head coach. There will be no problem with people working together."