At first the news that Redskins director of pro personnel Morocco Brown was leaving to take what appears to be a similar job with the Browns was surprising but, after thinking about it for a while, it really isn’t.
It is likely that his departure was sealed in the immediate aftermath of the firing of Mike Shanahan as head coach and as the man with the final say in personnel decisions including the draft, free agency, and the final 53-man roster. Brown was a candidate to get promoted to general manager and get that authority. It was the position he had been working toward since he was hired by the Redskins in 2008.
However, just a few hours after Shanahan was let go, Bruce Allen, who has held the title of general manager for the previous four years but without most of the authority that usually goes with that job, announced that he would get that final personnel say. Allen praised Brown and said that he would be an integral part of the process but it was clear that Allen would be in charge. It seemed unlikely that Brown would be able to get to the top job in Washington and that likely set the stage for his departure after the draft.
As director of pro personnel, Brown was in charge of advance scouting of opponents as well as evaluating existing NFL players as possible future acquisitions via trades or free agency. The team website gives him credit for helping to land free agents like Pierre Garçon, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen as well as landing undrafted players such as Darrel Young and Kai Forbath.
It will be a while before we know what the effects of Brown’s departure will be. It would be easy to look at the team’s 36-60 record and its lack of success when it comes to signing free agents and say that nobody associated with the team is irreplaceable. But Brown enjoys a solid reputation around the league and has interviewed for general manager jobs around the league in the past few years. It’s clear that he is not being held responsible for all of the problems that have plagued the Redskins.
There is no clear successor for Brown. Doug Williams, hired earlier this year as a personnel executive, has been mentioned but he might not want to commit to the extraordinary number of hours the job entails. Same for former Chargers GM A. J. Smith, who has been working as a consultant.
With most of the personnel acquisition done for 2014 it will be some time before we know what effect Brown’s departure will have on the team’s fortunes. While the team’s record will hinge much more on how well Robert Griffin III plays and on Jay Gruden’s ability to make the transition to being a successful NFL head coach, losing a good personnel man like Brown certainly won’t help matters. Replacing him will be Allen’s first major hire in the personnel department and he will need to get it right.