Redskins shakeup: Bruce Allen is GM, Cerrato quits

The Washington Redskins overhauled their front office Thursday

morning, hiring Bruce Allen as general manager after the

resignation of Vinny Cerrato.

Allen becomes the first person hired by owner Dan Snyder to hold

the general manager title, a notable milestone after a decade of

various front office arrangements that usually centered around

Snyder and his good friend Cerrato.

But changes were needed for a team that is 4-9 this season, and

Cerrato has been widely criticized for his roster decisions since

getting the title of executive vice president of football

operations two years ago.

Snyder is also expected to be hiring a new coach in a few weeks,

and Allen could be the bridge to that change as well.

The son of legendary Redskins coach George Allen, Bruce Allen

was the general manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five

seasons. He and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden were fired in January,

and the pair could renew their association if current coach Jim

Zorn is fired as the end of the season.

For players, the news was just the first of many anticipated

changes.

“That’s a start – that’s a change right there,” cornerback

Carlos Rogers said. “There’s going to be change in personnel.

There’s going to be change all over. It’ll probably be more changes

coaching-wise, so I guess that’s the first change right now. You

never know what Mr. Snyder got up his sleeve. Personally, I’m

worrying about me, and that’s all I can worry about.”

Tampa Bay won two division championships under Allen. He

previously worked for nine years in the Oakland Raiders’ front

office.

“Bruce Allen is the personification of an NFL winner,” Snyder

said in a statement released by the team. “Our fans know his

heritage; we know his abilities. He is the right person to lead our

club.”

The Redskins said Allen would begin work immediately.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity with one of the world’s

most successful sports franchises,” Allen said. “I love

everything about this assignment; I know what it means to be

dedicated to the Redskins. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Cerrato has been Snyder’s right-hand for most of the last 10

years, but even their tight friendship couldn’t overcome the team’s

recent struggles.

“We agreed that the franchise needs someone different in this

position,” Cerrato said in a separate statement released by the

team. “I’m thankful to Dan Snyder and other members of his

ownership team for the opportunities I’ve been given over the

years. Of course, I am disappointed with this year’s results, but I

strongly believe that with outstanding draft picks and encouraging

performance by our younger players, we have laid a strong

foundation for the franchise.”

Cerrato added that he has “had the pleasure of working with

some great coaches such as Joe Gibbs, Greg Blache and Sherman

Lewis” – notably leaving out Zorn.

Cerrato has been a favorite punching bag for fans in recent

years, receiving criticism often in tandem with Snyder. One fan

infamously used a pair of signs to refer to the pair as “Dumb”

and “Dumber” at a game this season.

Cerrato was one of the first major hires after Snyder bought the

Redskins in 1999. He was fired in 2001 by coach Marty

Schottenheimer after Schottenheimer was given control of football

operations. A year later, Snyder fired Schottenheimer and rehired

Cerrato.

Although Cerrato’s title changed over the years, he remained a

significant front office voice in player decisions. The results

have been far from encouraging: The Redskins have won only one

playoff game since 2000.

Cerrato’s power within the organization increased after coach

Joe Gibbs’ resignation two years ago, and there have been plenty of

hits and misses among his player choices.

This year, Cerrato gave Zorn an offensive line without a single

reserve who played in the NFL last year – even though two starters

were coming off significant injuries. Both of those starters soon

were out for the season, and the resulting scramble for a starting

five hampered the development of the offense.

“He is my friend, and he has always been there for me and the

Redskins,” Snyder said. “He’s the consummate optimist and has

always made decisions based on what would be the best for the

team.”