As someone who serves in various, crucial capacities for the Redskins, Eric Schaffer's recent promotion to Senior Vice President of Football Operations is a testament to his dedication to the organization.
Among his many accomplishment and skills throughout his 14 years with the Redskins, it might be Eric Schaffer's notetaking abilities that stand out the most to the front office staff.
At least twice, Schaffer said somewhat jokingly, following his promotion as Senior Vice President of Football Operations a couple weeks ago, Redskins team president Bruce Allen has told him it's his greatest asset. But teasing or not, it has certainly given him an advantage as someone who serves multiple roles at the same time.
While he will now take on more of a leadership and oversight position within the organization, Schaffer continues to be an integral part in various divisions, including remaining the club's chief contract negotiator – an area of prime focus over the next few weeks as the deadline for a long-term deal with Kirk Cousins approaches.
Schaffer is also responsible for strategic planning, management and forecasting Redskins salary cap and cash budgets while overseeing research and analysis of NFL player contracts. In addition, he serves as the team's General Counsel, advising the team on legal matters and business operations. It is, needless to say, a lot of work, and a good reason to take plenty of notes.
"I think [the promotion] just rounds out some of the different opportunities [that] I'm grateful the Redskins have given me," Schaffer said. "I started here negotiating contracts and doing cap, and then about five years ago they added the General Counsel, which was a lot more on the business side and sort of seeing the whole organization."
Schaffer also thanked former head coaches Joe Gibbs and Mike Shannahan for making sure he sat in on personnel meetings. How could he evaluate a player's monetary worth if he wasn't in the same room, listening to scouts and coaches explain the reasons why they liked or disliked certain players?
Schaffer has never been afraid to express his disagreements with the group, attesting to the openness of everyone in the decision room to hear his side of things.
"What's always been great about Dan Snyder and the coaches I mentioned and the management and Bruce [Allen], is that they never viewed me as 'You're a salary cap guy,' or 'You're a lawyer,' or 'You're this or that,' they always took my football opinion," he said. "And again, whether we used it or not, they always listened and validated that, so I always appreciated that about them.
And so, Schaffer's approach has been mostly self-taught, absorbing information in meetings and using it to give his roster maneuvering a real football background while holding discussions about the organization's future.
"For the last 10-12 years, I've been in all of the college meetings, so every time we're sitting in there, two months before the draft, we're watching every prospect on tape and I'm taking my own notes, I'm writing my own evaluation, and I'm sort of, you know, assimilating what everybody's saying," Schaffer said. "So I think that's maybe something where I can help, is to sort of take the coaching, take the personnel and sort of assimilate that to help us make a good decision."
That learning process has been a two-way street throughout Schaffer's career. Just as much as he has learned about evaluating talent on the field, Schaffer has doled out advice about player negotiations to Doug Williams, recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Player Personnel, and Director of Pro Personnel Alex Santos, among others.
Especially over the last few years, the group has mostly stayed intact and developed a greater bond. It's helped as Schaffer looks for insight from the scouting staff, knowing he can trust his group and their opinions on a variety of players.
"I think it's an incredible advantage," Schaffer said of having a similar group. "After the draft, I went over to where our guys were staying, our college scouts were staying at a local hotel, and we met up and just kind of had a little celebration after the draft, and I looked around at the table and, I don't know, if there's 10 or 12 people, and maybe seven or eight of these guys, including Alex Santos, Cole Spencer, Kyle [Smith], they were our interns. They were signed off of the street, the bottom level job, and they rose. So that part is really special, because everybody, David Wittington is another guy who had been our intern, so those guys all came up, they were interns, they were the guys picking people up from the airport, they were, you know, picking up dinners when we were in draft meetings, and then you saw them grow and learn, so that part is exciting.
"We have a lot of great things going on in our building. Sometimes when I read some of the stuff it focuses on one particular area, but there's so many great things going on. There's a lot of people who are really the fabric of our organization that don't always get recognized, but we know who those people are here."