Redskins' Williams Is Becoming a Wanted Man

Gregg Williams
Gregg Williams has immediately emerged as a top candidate for several head coaching openings. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
By Mark Maske and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The leaguewide head-coaching purge that began over the weekend continued in full force yesterday, as four more NFL teams fired their coaches. That left seven clubs looking for new coaches, and Washington Redskins defensive boss Gregg Williams immediately emerged as a top candidate for several openings.

The Houston Texans contacted the Redskins seeking permission to interview Williams, who also appears to be a leading candidate for the openings in Kansas City and St. Louis.

The Texans' Dom Capers, the Rams' Mike Martz, the Green Bay Packers' Mike Sherman and the New Orleans Saints' Jim Haslett were fired a day after the Chiefs' Dick Vermeil announced his retirement and Mike Tice was told by the Minnesota Vikings that his contract wouldn't be renewed. The Detroit Lions dismissed Steve Mariucci during the season.

A league source said the Texans contacted Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs to ask for permission to interview Williams next week. A source close to Williams said that the Texans, Chiefs, Rams and Vikings expressed interest recently.

"There are four teams I definitely know are interested in Gregg," said Williams's agent, Marvin Demoff. He declined to elaborate. In recent weeks, Williams said that the opportunity to return to Missouri, his home state, or Houston, where he began his coaching career, would be uniquely attractive to him, but yesterday declined to comment and said he is focused entirely on the playoffs.

Teams must ask the Redskins' permission to interview Williams, as he is still under contract and the Redskins are still playing. The Redskins could wait until after their playoff game to grant permission -- and are under no requirement to do so -- and any interviews would have to be conducted next week in the Washington area, according to a general manager familiar with the process.

Gibbs is expected to wait until after Saturday's game to inform teams whether the Redskins will grant permission for an interview, according to a team spokesman.

During his weekly news conference yesterday, Gibbs said that he realizes the team has several coaches who could become candidates for other jobs.

"We hope they'll stay here and continue to work with us," Gibbs said. "We also understand that sometimes things come up like that and they want to consider them and we'll just work through it as we go and see what happens. We're going to try to keep everything intact, I know that."

League and team sources said they anticipate Redskins owner Daniel Snyder will do everything he can to retain Williams, whom he made one of the highest-paid assistants in NFL history when he hired him in 2004. Snyder has the means to match the financial package any team could offer, and it is already a well-established tenet within the organization that when Gibbs, 65 and in the second year of a five-year deal, leaves coaching, the job would go to Williams, 47, should he still be here.

Williams has made it clear that interested owners must be committed to winning and spending on staff and players. Last year, Williams quickly turned down two interview opportunities, but there are several jobs that offer locales and emotional pulls that others do not.

"There are definitely certain things that would be intriguing," Williams said before the end of the regular season, "but it's got to be the right situation."

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