The new Houston NFL expansion franchise will name former Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly its vice president of football operations today, league sources said last night.
Casserly still was ironing out his contract with owner Robert McNair yesterday, but sources indicated the deal essentially has been consummated. Barring last-minute complications, the team is expected to call a news conference today to announce its first major hire since being awarded the NFL's 32nd franchise last fall. The team will begin play in the 2002 season.
Reached last night, Casserly would only confirm that "we're still in negotiations, and no deal has been done. That's really all I can say at this point."
McNair, who could not be reached for comment, told Houston TV station KRIV that "hopefully we are going to bring it to a conclusion here in the next day or two, but it isn't done."
Casserly also had interest from three other teams, sources said. He had been interviewed by the New Orleans Saints, and also was contacted by the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers' general manager position opened last week when Tom Donohoe resigned after losing a power struggle with Coach Bill Cowher, but Casserly declined to be interviewed for the job. Casserly and former Jets coach Bill Parcells also are close friends. Parcells is now running football operations for the Jets, but his role with the team under new owner Robert Wood Johnson IV remains unclear.
Casserly was interviewed by Saints owner Tom Benson to fill a job that came open with the firing of general manager Billy Kuharich two weeks ago. But Casserly also was intrigued by the prospect of helping build a team from scratch. McNair had him on his list of potential candidates from the day he was awarded the franchise, and a series of interviews over the past 10 days convinced him that Casserly was the right man for the job.
McNair, himself a lifelong Redskins fans, only interviewed two candidates: Casserly and Joe Mack, a former assistant general manager for Washington in the early 1990s who also helped start expansion franchises in Carolina and Cleveland.
Casserly had been with the Redskins since 1977, when he joined the franchise as an unpaid intern working for George Allen. He rose up through the ranks and took over as general manager in 1989 with the departure of Bobby Beathard, and remained in that position until the team was sold to new owner Daniel M. Snyder last spring.
Casserly was forced out of the job by Snyder, who felt he and Coach Norv Turner could not co-exist. Casserly, under contract with the team for two more years, was listed as a team consultant, though he had no input in any personnel decisions since September.
The Redskins made the playoffs this season, fueled in large part by players Casserly brought in during the offseason, including quarterback Brad Johnson, acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. Casserly also engineered a trade with the New Orleans Saints for that team's entire 1999 college draft, enabling New Orleans to move up in the first round to select Heisman Trophy-winning running back Ricky Williams.
Casserly also drafted starting cornerback Champ Bailey with the Redskins' first pick, and left the team with three No. 1 draft choices in the upcoming draft.