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WASHINGTON (AP) — On the opening day of NFL free agency, the Washington Redskins made a franchise-altering move that didn't involve a player.
They fired general manager Scot McCloughan on Thursday, ending speculation about his future that had clouded the organization in recent weeks. Team president Bruce Allen announced the firing, which is effective immediately.
McCloughan, 46, served as GM for the past two years and had a four-year contract.
The day McCloughan was hired, Allen said the new GM would have full control over personnel decisions, but there were splits in the front office on a number of issues.
"The organization remains confident in our personnel department as we execute our free agency plans as well as prepare for the upcoming NFL draft," Allen said in the statement, adding that the team will have no further comment on McCloughan's departure.
In a curious turn of events, McCloughan did not attend the scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this month, with a spokesman saying he was "taking care of some family matters."
The combine is a key evaluating opportunity ahead of the April draft where many decision-makers and agents are present, and the Redskins were represented by Allen, coach Jay Gruden and other officials.
The Redskins did not give an official reason for McCloughan's firing.
Before joining Washington, he served as senior personnel executive for the Seattle Seahawks and GM of the San Francisco 49ers. McCloughan resigned from his Seahawks post in April 2014 for personal reasons. He and the 49ers agreed to a mutual termination of his contract in March 2010, which Jed York called a "private personal matter."
McCloughan's firing puts Allen and vice president of football administration Eric Schaffer in charge of making free agent signings. It's unclear what the front office structure will be moving forward.
In the opening hours of free agency, Washington signed defensive tackle Terrell McClain and safety D.J. Swearinger to multiyear contracts. The Redskins lost receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive end Chris Baker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and receiver Pierre Garcon to the San Francisco 49ers.
After the Redskins extended Gruden's contract Monday, quarterback Kirk Cousins remains in limbo. They placed the franchise tag on Cousins for a second consecutive season while buzz circulates about a trade or a long-term contract.
McClain said in a phone interview that the team's uncertainty on and off the field did not make him hesitant to sign for $21 million over four years.
"Not really," McClain said. "I've been in situations where they always counted a team out and we always came from the ashes and did something great. Being that they have a whole bunch of issues going on right now, I'm pretty sure that they'll be able to work things out and move on."
A text message sent to McCloughan's agent, Peter Schaffer, was not immediately returned. Schaffer also represents Swearinger.
At McCloughan's introductory news conference in January 2015, Allen called it a "great day for the franchise" and added, "He's going to be in charge of all the personnel department and the personnel on this team."
That didn't quite work out as planned.
"I'm going to have great communication with everybody in the building on matters of personnel and in coaching, and we make decisions, we'll make them as a group and we'll take the ownership for the players," McCloughan said at the time. "And we're going to get better. I can't promise you it's in two weeks. But I can promise you starting today: I'll do everything in my power to make this organization strong as it possibly can be."
The Redskins won the NFC East and lost in the first round of the playoffs in McCloughan's first season as GM and missed the playoffs at 8-7-1 in his second.
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