Washington's search for Mike Shanahan's
replacement is over. Jay Gruden
and the Redskins have finalized a five-year deal to make him the team's latest head coach.
According to multiple reports, Gruden began working out the parameters of a deal Wednesday night, putting an interview with the Minnesota Vikings on hold in order to complete the deal with Washington.
As NFL.com noted, it caps a search for the Redskins that spread a wide net from the start, but settled on an offensive-minded leader. Gruden spent the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Bengals, helping to guide Cincinnati to three consecutive playoff appearances.
Long married to the West Coast offense, Gruden goes from working with the inconsistent Andy Dalton to young Robert Griffin III. Gruden's hire also brings him into a working marriage with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, who worked for years with former Buccaneers coach (and Jay Gruden's brother) Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay.
NFL Network's Jeff Darlington reported that Jim Haslett is expected to stay on as defensive coordinator. Jay Gruden previously served under Haslett as offensive coordinator with the UFL's Florida Tuskers.
The Redskins also are expected to promote tight ends coach Sean McVay to offensive coordinator, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Gruden, becomes the team’s eighth head coach since Daniel Snyder purchased the franchise in 1999 from the Jack Kent Cooke estate. That total includes Terry Robiskie, an interim coach for three games in 2000.
Gruden never has been an NFL head coach. But he has been a head coach in the Arena Football League and the United Football League. He oversaw the NFL’s 10th-ranked offense this season with the Bengals.
The first task is obvious: Getting the most out of Griffin, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2012 who failed to duplicate those exploits this season as he returned from knee surgery.
According to the Washington Post, people familiar with the situation believe that by retaining McVay, who was responsible for third-down package planning in the offense under Shanahan, the Redskins will help ensure a smoother transition for Griffin.
As Post staffers Mark Maske and Mike Jones noted, Gruden inherits some potential building blocks on offense in Griffin, tailback Alfred Morris, wide receiver Pierre Garcon and left tackle Trent Williams, but the Redskins’ defense has many players eligible for free agency and faces a makeover.
The Redskins are without a first-round draft choice this spring, thanks to their 2012 trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up in the draft order to select Griffin. But their two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the NFL at least is expiring and they potentially can bolster their roster for Gruden in free agency.
Worth noting. ... A five-year deal is highly unusual for a first-time NFL head coach and was a key to getting the deal done. Gruden’s agent, Bob LaMonte, said Gruden’s ties to members of the organization and his desire to work with Griffin also were major factors.
“He had an existing relationship with [Allen],” LaMonte told the Post. “He had an existing relationship with Haslett. He had an existing relationship with McVay. That certainly played into it. He was intrigued by the talent of the quarterback.”