Washington swapped receiver Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets, his former team, in exchange for explosive, but oft-injured, wideout Santana Moss. Both players must pass phsyicals with their new teams before the deal becomes official. Coles reportedly will take his physical Tuesday.
The Redskins also will likely sign Moss, a player owner Dan Snyder wanted to draft, to an extension pretty soon. He has one year left on his deal. The Redskins must not overpay for him, otherwise they'll look bad in a deal that's already tilted toward the Jets, at least on paper.
The disgruntled Coles wanted out of Washington, irritated by the Redskins' conservative offensive approach. At times the coaches were hamstrung by factors such as quarterback play and offensive line play. But there's little doubt that coach Joe Gibbs also tried more not to lose games on offense than win them, relying on a stout defense.
However, that tact failed, evidenced by six wins. And Coles grew more and more disenchanted. At season's end, he met with Gibbs and expressed his displeasure. Gibbs supposedly jotted the number ''13'' on a piece of paper, slid it across his desk and essentially said, ''fix that.'' In other words, figure out a way to deal with that bonus he received, one that would cripple the Redskins' salary cap were Coles released.
His displeasure became obvious in the locker room. Coles was never a huge fan of the media, but he would cooperate once a week or so. By midseason 2004, Coles stopped talking to the press. He didn't want to say something he would regret. And at season's end, his parting words to the media waiting in the parking lot were, ''If you want to know what I think, call my agent.''
Despite his injury problems, Coles played hard and tough. But it became evident that his injured toe limited him to some degree as a receiver. When he first arrived, Coles routinely got wide open on deep crossing routes. With his ability to plant and cut impaired a bit, he never seemed to get quite as open.
And Coles was almost never a factor in the red zone. Still, most teams consider him a No. 1 receiver, especially when healthy.
It remains to be seen if Moss can fill that role in Washington. Like Coles, it comes down to his health. Unlike Coles, he's missed time because of assorted injuries. He's made 29 starts in 51 games.
One knock on him in New York was that he was soft and not always willing to go across the middle. And some wondered how tough he was, given how much time he missed with injuries.
But he is a bigger playmaker than Coles, with 14 touchdowns the past two seasons compared to seven for Coles. The Redskins now have two receivers capable of getting deep with Moss and newly-signed David Patten. However, both are small. Then again, so were all of New England's receivers.
Last season, Moss caught 45 passes for 838 yards and five touchdowns. Two years ago he caught 74 passes for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.
Washington's receiving corps will be much different in 2005, with Coles gone and Rod Gardner set to follow via another trade. But there's no guarantee it will be better. A key player in this could be third-year wideout Taylor Jacobs. The coaches like him, a lot, and it's time for him to produce. They like his work ethic. They like his route-running.
If Jacobs comes through, then Washington could be four deep with James Thrash also around. Maybe the Redskins would lack the dominant wideout. But maybe they would find better depth. And wouldn't this be funny: after all of Coles' complaints, the Redskins now will throw the ball downfield.
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