10 most pivotal Redskins for 2003

When Jeremiah Trotter signed a seven-year, $35.5 million dollar contract with the Redskins in the spring of 2002 it seemed too good to be true for Redskins fans.

Even though the deal included a $7 million signing bonus it seemed a small price to pay for a 25-year old linebacker who was coming off of consecutive Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

At the end of the 2003 season, however, many were beginning to wonder if those who said that the Redskins overpaid for Trotter were right. It's not that he was a complete bust or anything; his 91 tackles were third on the team and the defense was ranked fifth overall in the NFL. But his highlight reel was non-existent, his memorable-play count was zero. For the kind of money Trotter got at the middle linebacker spot, one expects Dick Butkus' toughness, Nick Buoniconti's smarts and Ray Lewis' killer instinct.

Even Trotter wasn't impressed with his 2002 season. "I had a slow season," he said earlier this month.

Trotter's season ended early due a torn ACL suffered during the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas. By all reports, Trotter rehab from the knee injury has been progressing very well. With such a serious injury so late in the season, there is concern that the player won't be ready to perform at top speed in training camp, but Trotter vows that, "without a doubt, I'll be ready to go."

Along with his reconstructed knee, Trotter has a restructured contract for 2003 as well. The deal reduced his salary cap number for 2003 to around $1.7 million, but it quickly escalates to the $5-$8 million range from 2005 on. Those years should cover the prime of Trotter's career. Those are steep numbers, but they're tenable for a top-flight middle linebacker. They are, however, unacceptable for a MLB who has too many more "slow" seasons.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has detailed coverage of every game the Redskins played from 1937 through the 2001 season. For details, go to RedskinsAtoZ.com

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