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New GM Adam Peters shares his vision for rebuilding the Commanders

Commanders General Manager Adam Peters, right, speaks after team owner Josh Harris introduced him at Washington's headquarters Tuesday. (Luis M. Alvarez/AP)
5 min

The private jet landed at snowy Dulles International Airport at about 8 p.m. Monday, beginning a new era for the Washington Commanders.

Adam Peters, who signed a five-year contract to be the team’s general manager shortly before taking off, arrived with his wife, Jennifer, and two young daughters to start the months-long process of rebuilding the franchise.

Peters’s first day began early Tuesday at the Commanders’ Ashburn headquarters, where he toured the facility and met with staffers and coaches. The whirlwind continued with an introduction to local media alongside team owner Josh Harris, who said the Commanders had found “the right leader” to create a consistently competitive team.

“He’s won everywhere he’s been,” Harris added. “... It was a pretty easy decision from my point of view.”

Peters, who spent the past three seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ assistant GM, offered few specifics about his plans in the coming months and held to his script about an “aligned vision” with Washington’s ownership group and its next head coach.

“We’re looking for the best leader for this team, for the Washington Commanders,” he said. “We have set criteria that we’re going to have and be aligned with that vision.”

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Peters will dedicate his near future to evaluating and reconfiguring the front office and coaching staff and then revamping the roster. He said that he doesn’t believe Washington requires a total rebuild and that many staffers simply need strong leadership and, yes, an “aligned vision.”

But plenty of change is expected for the Commanders, who haven’t had a winning season in seven years and have churned through eight starting quarterbacks since 2020. The roster needs starter-quality talent and depth, and a number of the team’s free agents are set to hit the open market.

“I believe that there’s a few cornerstone pieces on this roster,” Peters said. “I believe we have a lot of work to do. That’s just evaluating everybody. And that’s going to start with coaches.”

Finding a long-term starting quarterback will be near the top of Peters’s to-do list. His stops in scouting and personnel for the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and 49ers have shaped his approach in finding talent for the long term.

“I find this a very similar situation from when we got to San Francisco in 2017,” he said. “… Ultimately, we’re going to build through the draft here and supplement through free agency. We’re going to be very process-driven and diligent in who we select in free agency.”

Over the past four years, Washington has struggled to find an identity on the field and with the players it has drafted and signed. There were some clear hits — seventh-round safety Kam Curl and third-round guard Sam Cosmi among them — and many misses.

“Whether the results come right away, that [depends on] a number of different factors, but you guys are going to be very proud of the team that we’re going to put on the field,” Peters said.

Peters reached an agreement with the Commanders last week after an expedited interview process that started at Harris’s home offices in Miami. He was one of five candidates to interview but appeared to be the leader from the outset because of his résumé, which includes three Super Bowl wins, six conference championships and 13 division titles over 21 years in the NFL.

The Commanders took an unusual approach to the search, enlisting former Golden State Warriors executive Bob Myers and former NFL executive Rick Spielman as consultants. Both met with the GM candidates in Miami.

“Growing up in the Bay Area, [Peters] knew that when Bob Myers was involved in this process, it was very impactful,” ­said Peters’s agent, Doug Hendrickson. “… I think that showed a lot to Adam. It showed that Bob Myers, after winning four [NBA] titles and having the ability to do whatever he wants to do in life, is teaming up with Josh. It was a huge value add to Adam. Then he had a chance to meet Josh and talk to [Mitchell Rales and Magic Johnson] and realized this is a job where he has a chance to mold and grow the team. It made it like, ‘Hey, this is where I want to be.’ ”

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The Commanders have five picks in the first three rounds of the 2024 draft, including the No. 2 selection. They also have the most projected salary cap space in the league and an ownership group eager to win and willing to spend.

Peters declined two interviews for GM openings during the NFL’s hiring cycle last year and, according to Hendrickson, said he wanted to find the right job. Peters knew Washington was probably going to have an opening.

“He said if any of these other jobs open up, I think Washington’s at the top of my list,” Hendrickson said. “And once he met Bob and Josh and all that, it became real.”

Now the work really begins. Although the 49ers are in the postseason, Peters’s time with them is done. He wasn’t part of Washington’s two virtual head-coaching interviews last week, with Baltimore Ravens assistant head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver and Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, but he will be at the center of the search as the interviews resume this week.

“I’m all-in,” Peters said. “We are all-in. I can’t wait to get started doing everything we can to restore this proud franchise to where it belongs.”