Update 11:15 a.m.: Follow all the latest updates on Jay Gruden
Jay Gruden has agreed to become the coach of the Washington Redskins, multiple people familiar with the situation said Thursday. Gruden, most recently the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, has informed the Bengals that he is leaving for the Redskins, one of those people said. The Redskins will introduce him at a 4 p.m. news conference. Gruden agreed to a five-year contract with the Redskins, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
People close to the situation said that current Redskins assistants Jim Haslett and Raheem Morris could remain with the team, with one of them serving as Gruden’s defensive coordinator. One of those people added that Bengals assistant Hue Jackson won’t join Gruden in Washington but likely will be elevated to offensive coordinator in Cincinnati to replace Gruden. Redskins tight ends coach Sean McVay could be an offensive coordinator candidate for Gruden. Haslett, Morris and McVay have worked with Gruden in the past.
Gruden had interviewed with the team Wednesday and had been scheduled to interview Thursday with the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, the Redskins completed a deal with him.
Gruden succeeds Mike Shanahan, who was fired by the Redskins after a 3-13 season. Gruden, the brother of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders coach Jon 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.
Jay 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.
Gruden would be inheriting a Redskins team that lost 40 games in four years under Shanahan and finished in last place in the NFC East this season. He would have the task of getting the most out of quarterback Robert Griffin III, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year in 2012 who failed to duplicate those exploits this season as he returned from knee surgery. 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.
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.
Gruden has ties to several members of the Redskins organization and was said Wednesday to have emerged as the team’s top choice to replace Shanahan. Gruden worked with Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen with the Buccaneers. Gruden was an assistant coach working for his brother and Allen was the team’s general manager. Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Sean McVay also worked with Gruden in Tampa. McVay and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett worked with him in the UFL.
Gruden arrived in town Tuesday night after interviewing earlier that day with the Tennessee Titans. He had dinner Tuesday with Allen and had his formal interview Wednesday at Redskins Park.
He was the sixth candidate known to have interviewed with the Redskins following offensive coordinators Darrell Bevell of the Seattle Seahawks and Jim Caldwell of the Baltimore Ravens, defensive coordinators Sean McDermott of the Carolina Panthers and Perry Fewell of the New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
The Redskins had planned to meet with Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin, but he reportedly was offered the coaching job at Penn State. The team also had sought interviews with offensive coordinators Ken Whisenhunt of the San Diego Chargers and Greg Roman of San Francisco 49ers, and defensive coordinators Mike Zimmer of the Bengals and Vic Fangio of the 49ers.
Gruden was a candidate for the Titans, Vikings and Detroit Lions. Before his interview Wednesday, one person close to the situation said that Gruden seemed to prefer the Titans but the Redskins might make him a financial offer that would be difficult for him to refuse.
Update, 10:32 a.m.:
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 Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III also were major factors.
“He had an existing relationship with Bruce,” LaMonte said in a telephone interview. “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.”
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