In a surprising twist at the NFL trade deadline, the Commanders, under the new ownership of Josh Harris, demonstrated they’re playing the long game. Harris, who recently acquired the franchise for a whopping $6.05 billion, is making it clear that he’s not in it just for Wild Card playoff spots; he’s eyeing championship glory, even if it means sacrificing star players in the short term.
The headline move involved trading defensive powerhouses Montez Sweat and Chase Young for future draft picks. While the immediate impact on the team’s performance may be questionable, Harris is laying the foundation for a strategic rebuild, a blueprint he’s executed successfully in his previous sports ventures, notably with the Philadelphia 76ers and their famous “process.”
In the basketball world, Harris‘s “process” dismantled the 76ers’ roster to acquire high draft picks, and although they’re not yet champions, they stand as perennial playoff contenders with an MVP to boast. The parallel isn’t perfect – the NFL is a different beast – but Harris’s track record suggests a penchant for long-term planning and success.
For Washington fans, accustomed to the franchise’s short-sighted pursuit of playoff spots under the previous ownership of Dan Snyder, Harris’s approach is a breath of fresh air. Snyder‘s regime was marked by impulsive decisions and a lack of strategic vision, epitomized by the Kirk Cousins saga. Now, with Harris at the helm, there’s a palpable shift towards calculated, future-oriented decision-making.
The current iteration of the Commanders, led by head coach Ron Rivera, falls short of title contention. At 3-5, they’re on shaky ground even for a playoff berth. The team, though displaying moments of promise, needs more consistency. Some fans are calling for immediate changes, possibly even questioning the future of Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. While these alterations might happen, Harris has already signaled that the focus is on the bigger picture.
The trade deadline moves weren’t just about parting ways with Sweat and Young; they were part of a broader strategy. Harris has positioned Washington to hold three top-45 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, with potentially five in the top 100. The flexibility to trade up, down, or acquire more picks opens up a myriad of possibilities for the franchise’s future.
Critics may question the return on investment for the traded players, particularly the compensatory third-round pick for Chase Young. However, it’s essential to factor in Young’s injury history. The former second-overall pick’s talent is undeniable, but his durability has been a recurring concern.
Harris, true to his commitment made during the introductory press conference, is reshaping the team with a championship in mind. While the departure of Sweat and Young may sting momentarily, it’s evident that Harris is assessing the team’s future beyond the next nine games.
Even with the duo, Washington’s defense ranks 31st in points allowed after eight games. Their absence might not be the game-changer for the remaining matches, but that’s not the point. Harris is steering the ship toward a future where Snyder‘s influence is a thing of the past, and a brighter, more strategic era awaits the Commanders.
In Harris, Washington has an owner with a vision beyond immediate gratification – a leader determined to build a team that competes at the highest level. The trade deadline maneuvers might be a bitter pill for fans to swallow now, but if Harris‘s track record is any indication, a championship-worthy future may be on the horizon for the Commanders.