- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002

MOBILE, Ala. The Washington Redskins finalized a deal last night with former chief negotiator Joe Mendes to return to the club in a similar role, making it a strong possibility that former personnel director Vinny Cerrato will rejoin the team in his former role.
During the day new coach Steve Spurrier continued to urge owner Dan Snyder to hire Tampa Bay personnel director Tim Ruskell as general manager, NFL sources said, but Snyder ultimately opted to split the post into two roles of lessened power. The owner seriously began considering such a scenario after talks broke down with former Redskins GM Bobby Beathard to become general manager.
Ruskell, Spurrier's longtime associate, will not join the Redskins as personnel director, because of both personal interests and the Bucs' refusal to grant a lateral move, sources said. Snyder interviewed Ruskell ostensibly to become general manager last week but pulled a late switch and offered the personnel director post instead.
The other top candidate to become personnel director is former Green Bay vice president of personnel Ken Herock, who, like Cerrato, was not employed as an NFL executive last year. NFL sources here have said that the Redskins would have extreme difficulty selling the personnel director job to an employed executive. The position carries compromised authority, particularly with Snyder apparently seeking to exert more influence on day-to-day personnel decisions.
Mendes is expected to take the vice president of football operations title, which Pepper Rodgers would surrender. Mendes is expected to be the lead figure on contracts and the Redskins' salary cap, as he was before stepping down just before the 2000 season. The future of Washington negotiator/cap specialist Mark Levin is unclear.
Meanwhile, Spurrier has been slow in meeting with secondary candidates for defensive coordinator while awaiting word from Kurt Schottenheimer, who was fired from the post last week. As of late yesterday Spurrier had not met with New York Jets secondary coach Bill Bradley, the only other confirmed candidate, and had not made contact with former Minnesota coordinator Emmitt Thomas, who apparently has drawn the new coach's interest.
Also, the Redskins might lose at least one player to Houston in the expansion draft because they have exposed two players kick returner Michael Bates and offensive lineman Matt Campbell who made solid contributions to Carolina while current Texans coach Dom Capers was there.
Washington's other exposed players are long snapper Ethan Albright, defensive tackle Jerry DeLoach and wide receiver Kevin Lockett. NFL sources confirmed the Redskins' list, which will be made public Friday after undergoing league review. The five players are essentially the same ones former coach Marty Schottenheimer was planning to expose, sources said.
Schottenheimer apparently is waiting to find out whether his brother will land a head coaching job. Marty Schottenheimer appears to be the frontrunner in San Diego but it is unclear whether he is willing to relocate to the West Coast. He also might be a candidate to replace Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay.
Kurt Schottenheimer also might have an opportunity to become coordinator in New Orleans, though Saints secondary coach/assistant head coach Rick Venturi appears to be the frontrunner there.
Bradley, speaking here after an afternoon practice for the Senior Bowl, said he had talked to Spurrier only casually to that point. Spurrier requested and was granted permission to interview Bradley, who has spent the past four years as a secondary coach for Buffalo and the Jets. He worked one season, 1985, in the USFL under Rodgers.
Thomas, also here, said that he was eager to hear from Spurrier but had not yet. Thomas was fired by the Vikings this month following the ousting of coach Dennis Green. Thomas also has been a coordinator for Philadelphia and Green Bay since working as a Redskins assistant from 1986 to 1994.
Tennessee linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham said from his office in Nashville that he remained eager to hear from Spurrier but hadn't. Cunningham was Kansas City's coordinator before spending 1999 and 2000 as Chiefs coach. Thomas and Cunningham fit Spurrier's ideal in that they have recent experience as NFL coordinators.
Bates, 32, remained fairly effective as a kickoff returner last season, ranking eighth in the NFC with a 23.5-yard average. He acted as special teams captain and playing a variety of roles on the units. Three of his five Pro Bowl appearances came under Capers (1996, 1997 and 1998).
Campbell, 29, was one of the original Panthers under Capers. He started 34 games for the coach at tight end, guard and tackle. Last season his primary contributions came as a stopgap at right guard, where he started five games.
Albright, 30, did not botch a snap last year and was part of what kicker Brett Conway called his best operation. DeLoach, 24, is a promising young defensive tackle but the Redskins apparently like another, Delbert Cowsette, more. Lockett, 27, was Washington's No. 3 receiver in 2001, catching 22 passes for 293 yards.
The Redskins don't have to lose more than two players in the expansion draft because they can pull back players after one is picked. The total salary cap value, including prorated signing bonus, of an exposed player would go to the Texans if he is selected.

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