- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2002

MOBILE, Ala. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder will have difficulty selling his two-headed general manager scheme to any of his targets who already have jobs as NFL executives, league sources said yesterday while attending events here leading up to the Senior Bowl.

Snyder is exploring the possibility of hiring a chief negotiator and a personnel director rather than giving oversight of both roles to a general manager. He began seriously considering the structure after talks fell through with former Redskins GM Bobby Beathard to return as general manager.

Those who are out of work as NFL executives might consider working for Snyder, league sources said, but those who are employed by other teams would not want to accept a position of compromised authority, particularly while Snyder apparently wants to exert greater influence on the day-to-day decisions of the personnel department.

The leading candidate to become chief negotiator is Joe Mendes, who stepped down from that role just before the 2000 season. Mendes interviewed with Snyder Friday at Redskin Park and sources said he is weighing whether he wants to return to an environment he was glad to leave in 2000.

Mendes has not returned to work as a league executive since departing the Redskins, much like another leading candidate for one of Snyder's roles, former Green Bay vice president of personnel Ken Herock. Herock was out of the league last season after being replaced by Mark Hatley.

Another former executive who might accept one of Snyder's roles is Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins personnel director who was fired last winter by coach Marty Schottenheimer. Cerrato currently is being considered for a scouting position, sources said, but could emerge as a candidate for personnel director if no one else takes the job.

A target like Buffalo director of football operations Tom Modrak or Oakland senior assistant Bruce Allen would not consider working for Snyder, sources said, unless the owner offered a position as general manager with a GM's pay and convinced the candidate that he would not meddle excessively in personnel affairs.

The top candidate of new coach Steve Spurrier is Tampa Bay personnel director Tim Ruskell, who interviewed last week ostensibly to become general manager. But Snyder pulled a late switch and offered the personnel director job to Ruskell, a move the Bucs promptly overruled. Executives under contract need their clubs' permission to interview for or to accept lateral moves.

Ruskell, a longtime associate of Spurrier, would not consider the personnel director position even if the Bucs didn't veto the move but would strongly consider an offer as general manager, according to sources.

Spurrier, speaking at an afternoon practice here, sounded pessimistic that such an offer would come. Asked whether he remained hopeful that Ruskell would join the team, Spurrier replied, "I'm hopeful but I don't know if that's going to work out. We'll have to see how it plays out."

Spurrier acknowledged that he will interview New York Jets secondary coach Bill Bradley for the vacant defensive coordinator position over the next few days here. Bradley would become the second candidate to interview, following former Redskins defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer.

Kurt Schottenheimer apparently has an offer from Spurrier but has been waiting to find out whether his brother will land a head-coaching job. He also might have another opportunity or two. New Orleans, for example, has expressed some interest in him.

Meanwhile, there were indications last night that Marty Schottenheimer would not take the San Diego job. His top opportunity now appears to be Tampa Bay.

Spurrier said he has several other candidates he would like to interview for the defensive coordinator position while in town. He reiterated that he is looking first at those with recent experience as NFL coaches, particularly those with recent NFL coordinator experience.

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