MIAMI -- The Redskins want to hire Mike Tomlin. That much is real, according to numerous sources with knowledge of the situation. Whether or not the organization can get Tomlin away from Pittsburgh is a very different question.
While Tomlin has been the Steelers head coach since 2007, Washington finds itself in the market for a new head coach after firing Jay Gruden last week. The team named Bill Callahan as interim head coach but he's been very clear that he is not auditioning for the job long-term. Internally there is some thought offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell could vie for the top job next season, but he would need to show a lot in the remaining 11 games this year.
Besides, in previous situations where the Redskins need to make a big hire, team owner Dan Snyder usually swings for the fences. When the team bottomed out with Steve Spurrier in 2003, Snyder went and brought Joe Gibbs back as head coach in 2004. When the team again bottomed out with Jim Zorn in 2009, Snyder went and brought two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan in 2010.
The team is again bottoming out, firing Gruden and starting the year 0-5. Now is the time for a big hire.
So the team wants Tomlin, a Super Bowl winner in Pittsburgh, and CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reports that Washington would be willing to trade draft picks to acquire the Steelers head coach. The team could also trade players as compensation for Tomlin, something to consider as standout left tackle Trent Williams has not reported to the Redskins all year and wants off the team.
Washington doesn't have a second-round pick in 2020, but beyond that, the team has all their picks in the near future. Trading picks for a coach might not be prudent, but Tomlin would give the organization real credibility.
There are lots of ties in the potential situation. Tomlin coached defensive backs in Tampa from 2001 to 2005. Doug Williams and Bruce Allen were with the Bucs then, and ironically, so was Jay Gruden. Tomlin's son plays football at the University of Maryland, and the coach grew up in Virginia and played college football at William & Mary.
One other thing that might go unnoticed: Don't sleep on Danny Smith's role in all of this. Smith coached the Redskins special teams from 2004 to 2012 and has strong relationships with many people inside the team's Ashburn offices. Should Tomlin really consider Washington, Smith can give him an honest assessment of the challenges that come with coaching the Redskins. And there are definitely challenges.
Whatever coach takes over in Washington will inherit a roster at a crossroads.
There is some young talent, especially on the defensive line, as well as wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Elsewhere on the roster, however, there are aging veterans with big contracts. The offensive line likely needs a reboot, especially with the Williams situation. Donald Penn has been fairly good but he's 36. They need new linebackers and probably tight ends too. Jordan Reed might never play again and Vernon Davis is 35.
Big picture though it's all about Dwayne Haskins. The team drafted the quarterback with the 15th overall pick this year, but in limited action so far, he's looked rough. There are lots of reports that he's not ready for game action, but there are other rookie quarterbacks starting across the NFL.
Developing Haskins is priority number one for the organization. Tomlin is a defensive guy, but he's a leader above it all. Could those two work together? Maybe.
One thing seems certain: Tomlin could handle the drama that follows the Redskins.
In Pittsburgh, Tomlin had to handle many years of Antonio Brown's antics as well as the contract holdout of LeVeon Bell. Working with Ben Roethlisberger doesn't seem like a picnic either.
The biggest hurdle in all of this is the incredible stability of the Steelers organization. Tomlin has been there over a decade and won a Super Bowl. Before that, Bill Cowher coached for more than a decade and won a Super Bowl. Before that, Chuck Noll was there for two decades and won four Super Bowls. In the past 50 years, the Steelers have had just three coaches. They don't fire guys, they don't make rash decisions, and plenty think there is no way they would trade their head coach.
Tomlin would be leaving the most stable organization in the NFL and coming to one of the most volatile. The hope would be Tomlin brings that stability with him, but not everything travels.
There will be other candidates for the Redskins coaching vacancy. The team brought in Todd Bowles last offseason and he will be a fan favorite. Bowles played for the organization and won a Super Bowl with the team in 1987. He will also have the support of former coach and team icon Joe Gibbs.
Mike McCarthy's name has been mentioned. He's another coach with a Super Bowl ring, but he won't bring the same gushing attention that Tomlin would. There will be other names that emerge too.
Tomlin is at the top of the list though. It makes sense why, as he's won 65 percent of his games a head coach. He's won in the playoffs and he's won at the highest levels.
Can Tomlin bring sustainable winning to Washington? That's been elusive, or some might even say impossible. Will he even get to Washington? Nobody knows that either, and the Steelers track record suggest he won't.
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