The San Diego Chargers’ protracted negotiations to hire former Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer reached the final stages last night.
Schottenheimer, in San Diego to complete the deal, apparently came to an agreement in principle to replace Mike Riley. The contract, which is expected to be announced today, lets Redskins owner Dan Snyder off the hook for much of the $7.5 million Schottenheimer is due.
Talks were expected to wrap up last week but extended, at least in part, because of concern that the Redskins would file a grievance if they believed Schottenheimer was being intentionally underpaid.
The $7.5 million is owed over the next three years because Schottenheimer was fired one season into a four-year, $10 million deal. The Chargers reportedly will pay Schottenheimer between $4.5 million and $5 million over the next three years, meaning Snyder must account for only the difference.
A grievance is not expected now, and if the Redskins file one the Chargers apparently will contend that they never have paid a coach more than what Schottenheimer is receiving.
An NFL spokesman said there is no guideline for how much a coach must be paid and that commissioner Paul Tagliabue will not look into the matter unless a grievance is filed. A Redskins spokesman had no comment on a potential grievance.
Schottenheimer’s impending deal with San Diego led to the official departure of another former Redskins coach, Norv Turner. Washington’s coach from 1994 to 2000, Turner was a season into a four-year deal as Chargers offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer wanted to keep him but Turner opted out of his contract and now is a candidate to become Tampa Bay’s coach or Miami’s offensive coordinator.
Turner also received money from the Redskins while coaching the Chargers about $500,000 of the $1 million he was due from Washington in 2001. The Redskins no longer have any obligations to Turner.
Washington now is concerned with Schottenheimer’s choice for defensive coordinator. Kurt Schottenheimer, Marty’s brother and Redskins coordinator, can return to his job in Washington under new coach Steve Spurrier, but he has been waiting for his brother’s situation to be resolved before making a decision.
The Redskins hope Kurt Schottenheimer will return because he had the NFL’s 10th-ranked defense last season and the unit could use some continuity. The Redskins’ defense has had three different coordinators in the past three years.
New York Jets secondary coach Bill Bradley is the only other confirmed candidate for Washington’s vacancy. Former Minnesota coordinator Emmitt Thomas apparently has interested Spurrier, too, and Tennessee linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham has expressed interest in the job.
Spurrier, who received a five-year, $25 million contract from Snyder, is in Hawaii for the Hula Bowl this week. The coordinator post, if Kurt Schottenheimer does not accept it, is unlikely to be filled before Spurrier returns to Redskin Park early next week.
Marty Schottenheimer guided Washington to an 8-8 record that included an 8-3 closing stretch. The finish out of the playoffs marked just the fourth time in 15 full seasons as coach Schottenheimer failed to reach the postseason. He has a career 158-104-1 record that includes a 5-11 mark in the postseason.
In San Diego Schottenheimer will be asked to elevate a team that went 5-11 last year with nine straight losses to end the season. The Chargers also went 1-15 in 2000 and have not had a winning record since 1995.
John Butler joined San Diego as general manager last winter and overhauled the roster. Riley was fired after going 14-34 in three seasons. Turner and Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell were candidates to replace Riley but Butler wanted a coach with significant experience, which he got in Schottenheimer.