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In event of NFL lockout, assistant coaches could suffer significant losses

By Mike Jones
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 18, 2011; 12:13 AM

Salaries for Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan and the rest of the NFL's head coaches are believed to be guaranteed for the coming year in the event of a lockout, but assistant coaches across the league could face significant financial losses if the standoff between owners and players drags on for an extended period of time.

The rules differ from team to team, and in some cases from coach to coach. But most assistants could suffer a decrease in pay or even lose their jobs in the event of a lengthy lockout, officials said.

"Every team has their own clauses in the contracts. Many of them are similar, but there are some differences," said Larry Kennan, executive director of the NFL Coaches Association. "Most treat the coaches pretty fairly. It might be three to six months they'll go into the lockout before they start cutting pay. Some, though, if there's a lockout in March . . . will start losing pay immediately but they'll still be expected to work full-time. Other teams are saying if there are no games missed, the coaches will be reimbursed. There's nothing really we can do about it.

"Of 32 teams, 20, 21 really treat their coaches fair and with respect. There are about 10 or 12 that do not."

The Redskins, Kennan says, are among those teams that treat their coaches well. Kennan said he believed the Redskins' assistant coaches will receive their full salaries for up to six months, and if the lockout continues, from that point on they would receive 50 percent of their usual pay.

"Dan [Snyder] has always treated his coaches fairly," Kennan said.

Two sources familiar with the contracts of Redskins' assistant coaches said that some, if not all, of them would receive as much as six months full pay in the event of a lockout. After that their pay would be cut in half.

The sources, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the coaches' contracts, said the language may vary from coach to coach.

Washington Redskins senior vice president Tony Wyllie said the team does not discuss its coaches' contracts.

Nevertheless, assistants around the league are wondering if the provisions in their contracts would stand up in the event of a protracted labor struggle. They are bracing for cutbacks this spring.

"I get calls every day: 'What do you know? Are they really going to do this? What does it mean for us?' Kennan said. "It's a difficult situation. Everybody's concerned."

For now, however, coaches have been instructed to go about their business as if nothing has changed. Over the past two weeks, Redskins coaches and officials have been in meetings preparing for free agency - whenever that signing period commences - and the draft. Next week, Shanahan and his assistants will head to Indianapolis to evaluate talent at the NFL combine.

The draft is certain to take place, but beyond that, league operations - like the financial outlook for assistant coaches - are uncertain for the next few months.

Team owner Daniel Snyder was asked earlier this month whether a lockout might affect the team's staffing levels. He offered no assurances.

"First of all, I don't want to speculate on 'if,' " he said. "I actually believe and I'm confident that they'll work out a deal."

Asked if he has a contingency plan for his staffing in the event of a lockout, Snyder said: "There's always planning for all sorts of things, but I'm not focused on that. I'm hopeful and optimistic that he'll get something done. I think [Commissioner Roger Goodell] can do it."

Staff writer Rick Maese contributed to this report.

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