The Washington Redskins have given head coach Jay Gruden a two-year extension on his contract, adding some stability to the team’s management structure as the NFL offseason heads into free agency and the draft process.
Gruden, ahired in 2014 by then-GM Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder, started off with a dismal 4-12 record and public spats with QB Robert Griffin III, leading many to believe Gruden would not last long in the job. Instead, he bounced back with two winning seasons after ditching Griffin and hitching his offense to QB Kirk Cousins. Now, a man hired, many thought, simply because of his famous last name and his ties to Allen from Tampa Bay, becomes the first head coach in the Snyder era to receive a contract extension.
Previously, Snyder fired head coach Norv Turner after less than two years, Marty Schottenheimer after one year, Steve Spurrier after two years and then Joe Gibbs retired for a second time after four seasons. Snyder then hired Jim Zorn and fired him two years later, leading to the four-year reign of Mike Shanahan, who was fired after a 3-13 season in 2013.
Speculation will immediately begin that Gruden’s contract extension is a play to engage the sympathies of free agent QB Kirk Cousins, who has had back-to-back career years under Gruden and who clearly wanted his head coach and architect of the team’s offense to return.
In addition to adding stability during a tumultuous offseason that has seen constant rumors about GM Scot McCloughan’s continued role with the team, keeping Gruden around solidifies an offense which has lost coordinator Sean McVay to the LA Rams and is likely to lose starting wideouts Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.
However, the risk for Snyder in extending Gruden, who turned 50 on Friday, is small. If Gruden doesn’t perform up to Snyder’s standards — whatever those may be — the owner will still fire Gruden, no matter how many years are left on his contract. Remember, this is a man who saw significant amounts of money go out the door with fired coaches like Schottenheimer and Shanahan. He won’t hesitate to do it again.