From 1990 to 1999 Mitchell returned kickoffs and punts, played other special teams and often was the third-down running back; Morton also will man both return roles, play some outside coverage on teams and should work 10-15 plays a game in the backfield and split out wide.
The Redskins have missed Mitchell since cutting him in 2000. In 2001, Michael Bates only partially filled Mitchell's role, and in 2000 and 2002, the absence of such a player was glaring.
"I know all the Redskins fans have been watching Brian Mitchell for so many years," coach Steve Spurrier said. "We've noticed the need for a return guy, a good one. We think Chad is the best that we could have possibly signed." ...
Despite the Redskins' big-time spending spree, the team still has plenty of salary cap room -- nearly $4 million.
The reason? Restructuring LB LaVar Arrington's contract. The Redskins were pressed for time in Arrington talks (having already agreed to an offer sheet with WR Laveranues Coles), and they guaranteed Arrington's entire deal. That left them with a surplus that will be tough to use up by the end of the offseason.
There are ways to move current cap space into future years, of course. Perhaps Washington will take advantage of one of those. Also, the team could start reworking the deals of Arrington (who needs a new contract; this one is too big) and CB Champ Bailey (who's entering into the last year of his rookie deal and is set to be a premier free agent at a premier position).
Bottom line: It's easy to forget that a tight cap situation can instantly become a rich cap situation if a team is willing to dip into its future. And often, as in this case, how much damage is done to the future often relies on choices going forward.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If there are any ill feelings between the Jets and the Redskins, I can assure you it's not on the coaching level or on the player level. ... (The signings) just happened that way. If there's some bitterness between the management-level people, that's something they need to talk about. But we have nothing but respect for [Jets coach] Herman Edwards and the Jets coaching staff." -- coach Steve Spurrier, trying to smooth over brewing animosity between the clubs after Washington raided New York for four high-profile free agents.
NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: The Redskins are looking ahead to the draft after acquiring 12 new players and re-signing one since the league year began in late February. The recent pickup of KR/RB Chad Morton eliminated their most pressing need; now the priorities are reserve DT, S and P. All could be filled in or immediately following the draft. The Redskins aren't particularly enthused with what's left on the market.
The lone exception appears to be Miami DT Jermaine Haley, who was the Dolphins' third interior lineman until Jeff Zgonina signed. Haley visited Green Bay but could sign with Washington without a visit because of his history with Redskins line coach Robert Nunn, formerly a Dolphins assistant. New England also is interested in the restricted free agent, who requires a seventh-round pick as compensation.
Washington also looked at DT Darius Holland, but he's a stretch as the No. 3 guy. He might be a possibility if the Redskins use their second-round pick on a defensive tackle and want another veteran in camp to compete for a roster spot.
In the draft Washington is down to a second-round pick (12th in the round), a third-rounder and a pair of seventh-rounders. If all goes as planned, that might net a No. 3 defensive tackle and a safety and punter capable of pushing for starting jobs.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Santana Dotson (a bust last year who won't re-sign); LB Eddie Mason (a valuable special teams player with good shot to come back); LB Kevin Mitchell (more strongly considering re-signing though still wants a starting job, which isn't available in Washington); OG Kipp Vickers (a journeyman); QB Danny Wuerffel (won't re-sign now that Rob Johnson has been acquired).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offer): WR Chris Doering (not tendered as RFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT: S David Terrell (tendered at $605,000 with 7th-round pick as compensation; Redskins are looking to upgrade; Terrell would be the third or fourth safety if he returns).
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: FB Bryan Johnson (tendered at $375,000); LB Antonio Pierce (tendered at $375,000).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: LS Ethan Albright (cut; $655,000/1 yr, no SB; 2003 cap: $450,000); OL Wilbert Brown (ERFA; $375,000/1 yr); DT Del Cowsette (potential ERFA; $375,000/1 yr); OG Tre' Johnson (UFA; $680,000/1 yr; $25,000 SB; 2003 cap: $475,000); S Ifeanyi Ohalete (ERFA; $375,000/1 yr); TE Leonard Stephens (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); OL Alex Sulfsted (ERFA; $375,000/1 yr).
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: S Matt Bowen (RFA Packers; $5.9M/4 yrs, $1.6M SB; 2003 cap: $850,000); RB Trung Canidate (trade Rams); WR Laveranues Coles (RFA Jets; $35M/7 yrs, $13M SB; 2003 cap: $2.3M); OG Dave Fiore (UFA 49ers; $6.33M/4 yrs; $1.5M SB; 2003 cap: $905,000); OG Lennie Friedman (FA Broncos; $475,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB/$200,000 base guarantee); PK John Hall (UFA Jets; $7.13M/5 yrs, $1.6M SB; 2003 cap: $850,000); QB Rob Johnson (UFA Buccaneers; $2M/2 yrs, $245,000 SB; 2003 cap: $777,500); WR Patrick Johnson (UFA Jaguars; $680,000/1 yr, $150,000 SB); RB/KR Chad Morton (RFA Jets/awarded to Redskins by arbitrator; $8M/3 yrs, $2.5M SB; 2003 cap: $1.03M); DT Brandon Noble (UFA Cowboys; $6.53M/4 yrs, $1.8M SB; 2003 cap: $980,000); OG Randy Thomas (UFA Jets; $27.63M/7 yrs, $7M SB; 2003 cap: $1.53M); DE Regan Upshaw (FA Raiders; $7.555M/5 yrs, $2M SB; 2003 cap: $1.055M).
PLAYERS LOST: OL David Brandt (traded Packers); PK Jose Cortez (cut); RB Stephen Davis (cut); DT Daryl Gardener (UFA Broncos; $34.87M/7 yrs, $5M SB); CB Darrell Green (retired); P Craig Jarrett (cut); OG David Loverne (traded Rams); QB Shane Matthews (UFA Buccaneers; 1 yr, terms unknown); DL Carl Powell (UFA Bengals; $1.73M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB); TE Walter Rasby (cut); S Sam Shade (cut); OG Brenden Stai (cut); WR Derrius Thompson (UFA Dolphins; 3 yrs, terms unknown).
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
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