Redskins Add Speed

The Redskins targeted one receiver in free agency, or so they say. They wanted to upgrade their speed. They wanted to do it economically. And they wanted a player of solid character.

So, at 12:02 a.m. Wednesday morning, they made their first call to wideout David Patten. Then they called back a few more times. Each time Patten liked what he heard. Each time the Redskins worried that their sales pitch would be enough.

Turns out their pitch, plus the contract, was enough. Patten signed a five-year, $13-million deal. He gives Washington a fast, experienced wideout, someone with a solid reputation as a person. Patten, who spent the past four seasons at New England, might not be more than a good No. 3 -- some consider him a No. 2. But he is fast and he did average 18.2 yards on 44 receptions with seven touchdowns last year..

For his career, Patten has caught 236 passes, averaging 14.9 yards, and scored 20 touchdowns. he caught a career-best 61 passes two years ago.

He'll play on the outside, as he did with New England, where he'd occasionally go in motion and run inside patterns. The Redskins aren't worried that he's only 5-foot-10, a generous listing. As of now, Washington lacks a big wideout -- and there's no guarantee that they'll address this spot in the draft.

''It's about production,'' receivers coach Stan Hixon said. ''On Mondays in the paper they don't say a guy is 5-10 or 6-3. They say what the results were.''

Besides, New England lacked a big wideout as well. Three Super Bowl trophies in four years suggest they did things right.

''He has that speed that we're all looking for,'' Hixon said. ''He can stretch defenses deep and catch the short throws and make them miss.''

Both were missing aspects of Washington's offense last season.

''We didn't have many chunk plays,'' Hixon said. ''We need more big plays.''

The Redskins aren't yet done in free agency, mainly because there's always the possibility something could happen. But they've addressed their two biggest priorities in their mind in the past two days: center and receiver.

And they wanted Patten from the beginning, ignoring other bigger name wideouts. It was about money, among other things. Patten was affordable. Also, the Redskins liked that he had worked his way up from being a free agent out of Western Carolina, starting off in the Arena Football League.

''You're always concerned that maybe people weren't taking notice about what you accomplished,'' Patten said. ''My agent told me the Redskins would be calling at midnight and I was like, coach Gibbs? I feel like I've been successful, but I didn't feel I had done that much to receive that kind of attention.''

''We called 20 people about David and couldn't get them to say anything bad about him,'' Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said.

As the clock neared midnight, Patten said he started to get nervous with anticipation. His brother phoned at 11:59 to toy with him, only to receive a what-are-you-calling-me-for?

''I was sitting there looking at it every two minutes,'' Patten said, ''and the phone finally rings and I was like, 'Man, it's actually happening.' For him to call that soon let me know they liked me.''

But he hopes that's not the last time he'll be liked here. He's confident it won't be.

''I believe the best is yet to come,'' Patten said.


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