- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2001

The Washington Redskins fired six assistant coaches yesterday and granted defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes permission to speak with other teams.

The expected staff shakeup left former interim coach Terry Robiskie, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac and linebackers coach Foge Fazio in limbo, though each will be allowed to seek a deal pending approval by the Redskins. Team sources said Robiskie will probably leave in coming days, but Trgovac and Fazio could remain.

Offensive line coach Russ Grimm departs after 20 years as a player and coach with the Redskins. NFL sources said the Pittsburgh Steelers will interview Grimm, who grew up in Pittsburgh and went to the University of Pittsburgh. Rubin Carter (defensive line), Pat Flaherty (tight ends/ special teams), Ron Meeks (secondary), Rich Olson (quarterbacks) and Kirby Wilson (running backs) also were released.

Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer awaits an NFL ruling on Kansas City's signing of coach Dick Vermeil before hiring many of his former Chiefs staff. That ruling over compensation to St. Louis for Vermeil could come as soon as today. Vermeil has to release the staff before they can rejoin Schottenheimer.

Gunther Cunningham, who was fired as the Chiefs coach Friday after succeeding Schottenheimer in 1999, called Schottenheimer about becoming the Redskins defensive coordinator. However, NFL sources said Schottenheimer is upset with his one-time assistant after the latter criticized him the past two years during Kansas City coaches meetings. Former Arizona coach Vince Tobin and Kansas City defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer are considered the front-runners for the Redskins defensive coordinator job.

Schottenheimer declined interview requests after spending more than eight hours talking with the assistants. Robiskie met with Schottenheimer for three hours about becoming the receivers coach, but that would be a step back from his passing coordinator's title the past two years.

"I told them I have no problem with [receivers coach]," he said.

Schottenheimer spent more than two hours trying to convince Rhodes to stay, but the coordinator was adamant about leaving.

Rhodes told several coaches and players that he was unhappy with the firing of coach Norv Turner on Dec. 4 and wouldn't return unless Robiskie was retained. However, the Redskins went 1-2 under Robiskie. Rhodes was especially unhappy over the Redskins insistence he complete the second of his two-year deal with no raise and changes on his staff. Rhodes was willing to sit out the season rather than return, according to team sources.

The Redskins are seeking a third-rounder for Rhodes, but it's doubtful any team will trade a pick knowing Rhodes will eventually become free. Denver is expected to contact Rhodes, but Minnesota is also interested.

Washington desperately wants another draft choice. The Redskins have only first, second, fourth and fifth-round picks remaining in their lightest draft since 1979 when they had five selections in 12 rounds. Still, that draft included starting tight end Donnie Warren and linebackers Rich Milot and Monte Coleman.

Washington, as compensation for signing Schottenheimer, lost its third-round pick in the next two drafts to Kansas City. It sent a sixth-rounder to Miami for defensive tackle Barron Tanner and a seventh-rounder to Denver for cornerback Tito Paul, neither is still with the team. The Redskins also traded a seventh-rounder to San Francisco for deep snapper Joe Zelenka.

Team sources said owner Dan Snyder wants to trade up to the top five picks to gain Miami receiver Santana Moss. However, a move up of 10 slots would probably require two first-rounders. The draft is considered deep with receivers so the Redskins could still get a quality wideout at No. 15.

Meanwhile, linebacker Derek Smith cleared out his locker. Unlike past offseasons when Smith, one of the weight room regulars, left his things at Redskin Park, he departed with a large trash bag of equipment. Smith, who is an unrestricted free agent whose re-signing status is uncertain, said he hoped to return next season.

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