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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins.
Coles Update II--Gibbs Denies Report
In remarks broadcast on SportsTalk 980, Joe Gibbs denied a Washington Post report that the release of receiver Laveranues Coles was imminent. According to Gibbs, the story by Nunyo Demasio was not true:
The story referring to LC is inaccurate and not true. . . Yeah, it says we're going to release him; that's in accurate and it's not true.When asked if Coles would definitely be on the team next year, Gibbs equivocated only slightly:
My statement is how I feel about it and I'm making plans and we're going forward with what we have and [Coles] is part of those plans.The door for Coles leaving is left open more than just a crack here. There's plenty of room for the 5-11, 193-lb receiver to slip out of in Gibbs' statement there.
Demasio, in an interview on the radio station, stood by the story. While he said that he may have been off on some details, the bottom line, according to Demasio, is that Coles will not play with the team in 2005. He said his sources were in both Coles' camp and among team officials.
He said the Coles himself was not a source; apparently, Joe Gibbs was not either.
Update: Skins Will Try to Trade Coles
The Redskins may be backing off of their deal to release Laveranues Coles in exchange for his returning part of his signing bonus, according to a wire service story that appeared on ESPN.com.
The Redskins, however, will have to pick their poison. They will either recoup some bonus and some salary cap space or they will get a player and/or picks for Coles and take the net $6 million cap hit.
'They can't have it both ways,' said one source. 'If he's going to repay part of [his signing bonus], it's because he can be a free agent, and choose where he continues his career, not to have them trade him. Honestly, it's a mess right now.Shopping Coles would seem to be the prudent thing for the team to do. That way, they can weigh the cost of the salary cap hit against what they would receive in the way of compensation. In addition, they could keep Coles from going to a division rival.
It's highly unlikely that a trade will be made, but it makes sense for them to try.
Stunner: WP--Redskins to Cut Coles
There's nothing like having to have a perfectly good blog entry rendered null and void in less than 24 hours.
Yet that's the case as Saturday night's piece on the Redskins wide receiver situation was shot to hell by this article in the Washington Post:
Washington Redskins wide receiver Laveranues Coles has had at least two extensive conversations with Coach Joe Gibbs since the season ended which are expected to lead to his release from the team, according to sources familiar with the situation.Apparently, Coles is unhappy with Gibbs' conservative offense that emphasized the running of Clinton Portis and the short passing game. Most of the passes to Coles, a smaller, speedy receiver, were short tosses and screens designed for Coles to gain yards after the catch. He averaged just 10.6 yards a catch in 2004 after having averaged no fewer 14 yards per in any of his previous four seasons.
So, the one given in Saturday's piece, that Coles would man the #1 receiver slot, is now apparently gone if Nunyo Demasio's report is correct. It's back to the drawing board.
Exactly what the Redskins will have to work with in rebuilding their WR corps is unclear. According to the Post article, this will not be your garden-variety release where the team eats the portion of the signing bonus--in Coles' case $13 million--that hasn't been charged to the salary cap. The bottom line on the team waiving Coles would be a net increase of just under $6 million to their 2005 cap. The team can ill afford such a hit.
This transaction will not be a waiver maneuver but something more like a mutual voiding of the contract. Coles will pay back some portion of the $13 million bonus. Exactly how much he might repay is not known, but if he gives back about half of it his departure will be just about a wash on the salary cap books. Of course the 2003 first-round pick that the Redskins gave up as compensation for signing Coles as a restricted free agent is now gone.
There will be efforts to assess blame for this fiasco. The two lightning rods will be Coles and team owner Dan Snyder, who was responsible for the deal to acquire Coles to be the primary weapon in Steve Spurrier's Fun and Gun offense.
Certainly it will be easy to put the blame on the rich, spoiled athlete who is pouting because he isn't getting his own way. And there's a lot of truth in that, but at least Coles is going about this in the right way. He could pout and whine to the media and essentially force the team to relese him. Instead, he's keeping his mouth shut, taking out his checkbook, and buying his freedom. That's the high road. And if he wants out that badly, it's best to let him go.
Snyder is always at the center of the storm and it' hard not to place some of the blame at his feet; he made the deal. However, the nexus of Coles' unhappiness is the best move that Snyder ever made--hiring Gibbs.