Spagnuolo Will Stay Put

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 8, 2008

New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo announced yesterday that he will remain with the Giants and no longer is a candidate for the Washington Redskins' head coaching position, while former Giants head coach Jim Fassel still hoped to get an offer, league sources said.

Fassel, 58, has been a front-runner the past few weeks, and league sources said he nearly got an offer two weeks ago to replace Joe Gibbs, who retired Jan. 8. The other candidates for the job -- Steve Mariucci and Ron Meeks -- believe Fassel is most likely to get the position, according to sources close to them, and all expressed some degree of confusion about the process, which owner Daniel Snyder has said he would like to complete this week.

As of last night, Meeks, Fassel and Mariucci still were awaiting calls to notify them of their final status, sources said.

Spagnuolo, who spent Tuesday night and all of Wednesday with Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, the team's executive vice president of football operations, agreed to a three-year contract with the Giants worth more than $2 million per year, according to league sources, making him among the NFL's highest-paid defensive coordinators.

"I was happy to have the opportunity to explore that situation, but I am equally happy to be staying in New York and look forward to continued success with the Giants," Spagnuolo told the Giants' Web site yesterday. League sources said several people advised Spagnuolo not to take the job, citing concerns with the front-office structure.

After the lengthy interview process, the Redskins did not offer the job to Spagnuolo, and he left for New Jersey early yesterday morning. Snyder and Cerrato asked that Spagnuolo call them yesterday after discussing his intentions with his wife, and Spagnuolo phoned them later to tell them he was staying with the Giants, sources said. His agent, Bob LaMonte, denied media reports that Spagnuolo told the Redskins he was not ready to be a head coach.

"At the end of the day, we're very appreciative of the opportunity to interview here for the job," LaMonte said. "We appreciate the fact that they waited a month [until after the playoffs and Super Bowl] to do so, and the fact that they spent 20 hours interviewing him over three days. It was a very thorough process, and in the end it was just agreed that he would stay in New York. The Redskins are a first-class organization, but Steve's heart was in New York, with his players and coaches."

Spagnuolo, 48, became a hot coaching commodity during the Giants' championship run. The highlight was New York's stifling defensive performance in its 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl. Spagnuolo has been a coordinator for only one season, and the Giants wanted to keep him. Also, he wouldn't have had his choice of top assistants with the Redskins because the team has assembled nearly an entire coaching staff.

Two other candidates for the Redskins' job -- Fassel and Meeks -- have voiced approval of Snyder's decision to hire Jim Zorn to run the offense and promote Greg Blache to take charge of the defense. Mariucci has ties to both coordinators, as well, but was not optimistic about his chances of landing the job.

Redskins Notes: Quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor will be leaving the team to take the same position with the Seattle Seahawks, league sources said. Lazor, who was not going to retain that title in Washington, will replace Zorn in Seattle. . . . Jack Burns, a longtime associate of Gibbs and an offensive assistant here, cleaned out his office and no longer is on the coaching staff, league sources said. Another offensive assistant, Bob Saunders, did the same earlier this week. The Redskins are streamlining their staff, sources said, with Zorn possibly bringing in one younger assistant. . . .

There is support from within the organization for longtime college assistant John Palermo to take over as defensive line coach, league sources said. Palermo worked with Cerrato at Notre Dame but never has coached in the NFL. He spent last season with Tennessee Tech and told school officials when the season ended that he was retiring after 29 years of coaching.

Staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this report.

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