Gibbs initially was hopeful that a deal for Gardner would be completed by now, expressing optimism about the degree of interest in the former first-round pick, but the market for him has been relatively stale, league sources said.In waiting until draft day, the Skins are hoping that a team looking to draft a receiver in the first two rounds will come up empty and deal away their third or fourth rounder for Gardner.
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"I haven't seen any movement there," said one NFL personnel executive, who said the most likely time for a deal could be at the April 23-24 draft.
One of the hangups in a potential trade is Garnder's contract situation. Any team dealing away more than a throwaway pick for him wants to have him signed beyond the one year he has left on the contract he signed as a first-round draft pick out of Clemson. Gardner, realizing that his value would not be very high if he were to negotiate a deal right now, wants to play out the last year of his contract and become a free agent.
It seems like Gardner is holding all of the cards here and in a way he is, but it's not like he has a really strong hand. If he doesn't agree to an extension to make a trade happen he faces getting cut by the Redskins (they are very unlikely to keep him after publicly throwing him under the bus by announcing that he wasn't in their plans in 2005). If he faces being a free agent now, he'll be trying to negotiate a deal based on his 2004 numbers of 51 catches for 650 yards and 5 TD's, a performance quite similar to his '03 performance. That's not going to add up to a big contract. At least if he signs an extension to enable a deal with a new team he'll be able to keep the $2.1 million he's slated to make this year.
So, it's in 50/50's best interest to go ahead and grease the skids for his imminent departure from the Redskins. It's likely that he will find the post-draft free agent market to be a cold and unprofitable place to be.