- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001

A shakeup of the Washington Redskins' front office, coaching staff and roster loom today as Marty Schottenheimer begins his duties as newly hired coach and director of football operations.

The biggest questions are whether player personnel director Vinny Cerrato and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes will remain with Schottenheimer, who signed a four-year, $10 million contract yesterday to replace interim coach Terry Robiskie.

Schottenheimer, 57, comes to the Redskins with a 150-96-1 record (including playoffs), compiled during 4 and 1/2 seasons in Cleveland (1984-88) and 10 in Kansas City (1989-98). His teams went to the playoffs 11 times, with trips to the AFC Championship game in 1986, '87 and '93.

Expected to be considered as personnel director is Mark Hatley, Schottenheimer's director of pro personnel in Kansas City (1993-97) and Chicago's current vice president of player personnel. But those familiar with the situation said owner Dan Snyder told Cerrato his power would remain intact.

Schottenheimer, who could not be reached for comment, is expected to have veto power over players chosen by the personnel director, a power Norv Turner also had under Snyder. Turner was fired Dec. 4 after the Redskins lost their second straight game to fall to 7-6. The team finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs despite a record payroll approaching $100 million.

Team sources say Rhodes is expected to depart the Redskins, as he had been planning if Robiskie was not retained as head coach.

After improving Washington's defensive ranking from 30th to fourth in his first season, Rhodes is considered a hot commodity, particularly for Denver's coordinator position. Rhodes would need the Redskins' permission to make such a move. The club is not prepared to give that at present, but sources say he could force his departure if he's unhappy.

Schottenheimer will talk to both Rhodes and Robiskie about staying. Robiskie's position could be below that of offensive coordinator; former Southern Cal coach and Chiefs assistant Paul Hackett is being considered for that spot, sources said.

Ultimately, the coaching staff is in limbo as it awaits a meeting today with Schottenheimer. Robiskie, asked what his future would hold, replied simply, "I have no clue."

Redskins players also are curious to see how Schottenheimer's staff fills out. The future of Rhodes, who has great respect from his unit, is of particular interest.

"There are some guys who want to know if Ray will still be around," safety Sam Shade said. "It would be good for Ray to stick around, so we don't have a lot of turnover like we did last year."

Schottenheimer and his personnel director must reconstruct a roster that is some $6 million over the projected salary cap with just 43 players under contract. The Redskins' cap figure does not include two starting linebackers (Shawn Barber and Derek Smith), a kicker, a punter, a return specialist, a backup quarterback and likely replacements for offensive starters like Albert Connell and Keith Sims.

Washington's current status above the projected cap is not unique, but the club has demonstrated a rich taste for free agents and it has several players (notably defensive tackles Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson) whose reworked contracts make them virtually impossible to release.

The top 51 players of each NFL team must be under the cap by March 2, the day free agency begins. The Redskins have been planning to pursue a free-agent wide receiver, possibly San Francisco's Jerry Rice or, if he is released, Jacksonville's Keenan McCardell. Carolina Pro Bowl returner Michael Bates is another target. Washington also has been planning to select a wide receiver, it hopes Miami's Santana Moss, in the April 21 draft. All acquisitions now are subject to Schottenheimer's preferences.

Among Schottenheimer's other important decisions will be where to hold training camp. Camp moved from Frostburg, Md., to Redskin Park last summer but team sources say this summer's location is undetermined. Camp could be held at a local college, depending on Schottenheimer's preference.

Affecting training camp will be the possibility of playing an exhibition game in Germany. Snyder has been pressing for such a game, and the club, if selected by the NFL, would have to break camp approximately a week early to participate.

Schottenheimer is expected to scout the Jan. 20 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The coaching staff had been planning to depart Jan. 15 for the college all-star game.

• Staff writer Rick Snider contributed to this report.


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