The Redskins finally got the contract situation of their ostensible No. 1 wide receiver sorted out, signing former Jet Santana Moss to a six-year, $31 million deal.
The pact for Moss, who was traded straight-up for disgruntled Laveranues Coles this offseason, contains $11 million in combined signing and option bonuses and will void to five years based on a modest playing-time clause.
The upshot of the agreement is that Washington has one less headache to worry about this summer. Moss was expected to attend training camp regardless of his contract situation (he was under contract for $448,000 in 2005), but his absence from the June 17-19 minicamp or open frustration at training camp could have been a distraction.
Running back Clinton Portis recently claimed his former University of Miami teammate was itching to join the Redskins, saying, "He wants to be here. He calls me every day. 'Man, what y'all doing today?' I'm like, 'We're doing the same thing you're doing down in Miami. You ain't missing nothing.' "
The Redskins don't have a true No. 1 wide receiver in the classic sense, as Moss stands just 5-feet-10 and has produced only one big-time NFL season (2003: 74 catches, 1,105 yards, 10 touchdowns). Generally speaking, he's prone to both injury and an erratic presence on the field.
But this is the best the club has following an offseason rejiggering of the receiving corps. Coach Joe Gibbs, frustrated with completing just nine passes of 30 or more yards in 2005, sought upgrades in speed, and he got them in Moss and former Patriot David Patten, who each averaged more than 18 yards per catch last season.
The team's failure to draft a wide receiver in the first round (Southern California's Mike Williams was available at No. 9) boosts the expectation that Gibbs will rely primarily on Portis and second-year H-back Chris Cooley for production this season. Moss, Patten and others will provide deep complements to stretch the field.
Patten might not even start, with recent indications from Gibbs that he would like third-year pro Taylor Jacobs to step up and win a starting job. Jacobs, a second-round pick in 2003 whom Washington at the time trumpeted as a steal, had just 16 catches for 178 yards last year but retains the physical skills for a more prominent role.
One newcomer who most likely won't be starting in the Sept. 11 opener against Chicago is CB Carlos Rogers -- but not because of any performance- or maturity-related reasons.
Rogers, taken ninth overall out of Auburn, will be subject to assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams' historical preference for breaking DBs in slowly. Williams is concerned about eroding the confidence of such players so early in their careers and, in any case, doesn't believe an early selection in the draft buys a spot among the starting 11.
"We promise we're going to play the best people," Williams said. "If the best man is Carlos, he'll get a chance to play. But he's done nothing in this league to earn that right right now -- not one thing. Your draft status doesn't do anything in earning you a spot on the depth chart, at least with us. Some places it does, with us it doesn't."
--The Redskins' other first-rounder, QB Jason Campbell of Auburn, looked terrific during the rookie minicamp. While Rogers admitted to being a bit nervous, Campbell flashed terrific arm strength and accuracy, and he picked up more of the offense that coach Joe Gibbs anticipated.
Campbell even took virtually all of the snaps on the workouts' first day, because Penn State passer Zack Mills, who was on hand for a try-out, suffered a quick hamstring injury. Coach Joe Gibbs said Campbell enjoyed a strong debut.
"He's got a lot on his plate from a mental standpoint," Gibbs said. "You're looking to see how he handles it -- can he get everybody lined up? I thought he had a good feel for that. He handled the mental aspects of it. We were just worried about overworking him."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Redskins cleared up several lingering issues on the personnel front, signing WR Santana Moss to a six-year, $31 million contract and cutting QB Tim Hasselbeck, who was destined to be the No. 4 passer following the drafting of Auburn's Jason Campbell.
With Moss under contract, the club's only outstanding contract issue is that of S Sean Taylor, who's expecting a new deal after just one NFL season. Coach Joe Gibbs has signaled on several occasions that he's not inclined to re-work the seven-year, $18 million, incentive-laden pact.
Six players were signed among the 53 who came to rookie minicamp on a try-out basis -- OL Jon Alston, OL Adrian Gonzalez, WR Pedro Holiday, DL Charles Howard, LB Zak Keasey and OL Dominique Richardson. TE Chevon Troutman, a basketball star from Pittsburgh trying to become Washington's Antonio Gates, washed out of the three-day affair on Day 1.
To make room for the newcomers, veterans TE Dan Goodspeed and LB Devin Lemons were released, as were four newly signed undrafted rookies: DB Ray Custis, OL Brett Hodge, WR Tiger Jones and OL Scott Paffrath. Later in the week, Washington also cut WR Jason Samples.
Hot Topic: Who Starts Opposite Moss?
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