- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

As the Washington Redskins' staff of assistant coaches prepares to dissolve today, it grows increasingly clear that coach Marty Schottenheimer's new staff will depend upon and factor into a variety of moves around the league.

Schottenheimer met with defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes and former passing game coordinator and interim coach Terry Robiskie on Friday, as well as several other Redskins assistants. More meetings are scheduled today, and members of the staff are either bracing to be fired or preparing to quit.

It appears Schottenheimer's top choice for offensive coordinator may be St. Louis Rams associate coach Al Saunders, who spent 10 years under Schottenheimer in Kansas City. But Saunders also is a candidate to join Dick Vermeil's new Chiefs staff once the Chiefs and Rams settle their dispute on compensation for Vermeil.

The Redskins asked the Rams late last week for permission to speak with Saunders, who has one year left on his contract. But St. Louis nixed contact by requesting draft-pick compensation perhaps in retaliation for the Redskins' demand earlier in the week for compensation when the Rams asked to speak to Rhodes.

Schottenheimer was traveling to his North Carolina home yesterday and was unavailable to comment. The Redskins' and Rams' requests for contact and compensation were confirmed by Rams president John Shaw to St. Louis reporters. Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson denied that any clubs had asked to speak to Rhodes.

St. Louis since has hired former Tampa Bay linebackers coach Lovie Smith to replace defensive coordinator Peter Giunta, who was fired Tuesday, the same day Denver dismissed defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. Rhodes remains the top candidate for the Broncos' position, ahead of Green Bay defensive backs coach Bob Slowik and fired Kansas City coach Gunther Cunningham.

It is highly unlikely Cunningham will become Schottenheimer's defensive coordinator because Cunningham is known to have criticized Schottenheimer to Chiefs players after replacing him. Of course, Schottenheimer just agreed to a four-year, $10 million contract with Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who he recently sharply criticized while working as an ESPN analyst.

It is more likely Schottenheimer's brother, Kurt, will join the Redskins in the top defensive position. Kurt Schottenheimer technically cannot speak to his brother about the job until today, when a two-week waiting period following the regular season elapses. Kurt Schottenheimer is expected to be dismissed soon by Vermeil, who reportedly is interested in fired Arizona coach Vince Tobin.

Sources have said Rhodes is determined to leave after Friday's terse meeting with Schottenheimer. Rhodes, who has one year remaining on his contract, rejected an offer to remain without a raise. The Broncos would be able to hire Rhodes without compensation if he is let go; Schottenheimer last week denied that Washington asked Denver for compensation.

Other candidates for Redskins offensive coordinator are former Southern California coach Paul Hackett and Buffalo offensive coordinator Joe Pendry, both of whom worked under Schottenheimer.

Robiskie could be offered a position as Redskins wide receivers coach, but he probably would decline any role below offensive coordinator.

The position of personnel director, meanwhile, should remain with Vinny Cerrato for the time being. Schottenheimer is interested in Chicago vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley, who spent five seasons as his personnel director in Kansas City. Such a move, however, is not expected until after the draft.

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