- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2002

Former Washington Redskins player personnel director Vinny Cerrato will return to the team as soon as Sunday, but the team's recent front office shakeup will lessen his previous role.

NFL sources close to Cerrato said yesterday that he will meet with owner Dan Snyder on Sunday after covering the Senior Bowl for ESPN tomorrow. Cerrato is ready to take the job, despite its unspecified nature, following a series of talks with Snyder in recent days. While Cerrato will regain his former title, he'll work under vice president of football operations Joe Mendes.

Cerrato's hiring will complete the front office, with Snyder now expected to become more involved in personnel matters. Mendes emerged as the top official over Cerrato despite an earlier expectation of equal roles. Cerrato will oversee pro and college scouting, but Mendes will control the scouts rather than Cerrato, who fired the staff after he was first hired in July 1999.

Cerrato isn't expected even to work regularly at Redskin Park. Unlike his previous 18-month tenure after succeeding general manager Charley Casserly, Cerrato is now expected to be on the road scouting college prospects and NFL free agents. While he will have input on the draft and free agent signings, Mendes and Snyder, along with coach Steve Spurrier, will make the final decisions.

Former coach Marty Schottenheimer fired Cerrato in January 2001 despite assurances only days earlier from Snyder that Cerrato was safe. Cerrato spent the past year as an ESPN online analyst. ESPN is expected to make Cerrato an offer that won't come close to his Redskins salary.

During Cerrato's only offseason, the Redskins spent nearly $100 million on marquee free agents like cornerback Deion Sanders, safety Mark Carrier, defensive end Bruce Smith and quarterback Jeff George and two first-round picks. Cerrato orchestrated a trade for San Francisco's third overall selection, which netted offensive tackle Chris Samuels. The Redskins also selected linebacker LaVar Arrington with the second overall pick. Both players reached the Pro Bowl in their second seasons.

Meanwhile, Schottenheimer is expected to become the San Diego Chargers coach as soon as today following a week of talks. NFL sources said final contract language over Schottenheimer's responsibilities and the possibility of a fourth year have delayed the agreement. Schottenheimer could earn $4 million over three years, leaving Snyder to pay only $3.5 million of the coach's remaining contract.

Schottenheimer's deal probably will keep defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer from accepting the Redskins' offer to remain. Washington has talked briefly with other candidates in case Schottenheimer joins his brother in San Diego.

Former Redskins coach Norv Turner may join the Miami Dolphins as offensive coordinator rather than remain in the same role under Schottenheimer.

Turner greatly improved the Chargers offense last season, but NFL sources said Turner doesn't believe his style would mesh with Schottenheimer's "Marty Ball" run-oriented offense.

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