Arrington Wanted to Stay but Couldn't

LaVar Arrington wanted to stay. He told teammates that. He told friends that. But what he was never sure about was this: did the Redskins really want him to stick around? Or did they want him to redo his contract to make it easier to perhaps unload him later.

Because he wasn't sure, Arrington opted to do the one thing he never wanted to do. He forfeited around $4.4 million in bonus money in 2007 and '08 to become a free agent, thus severing all ties with the Redskins.

The move helps Washington immediately, freeing up around $4.2 million in needed cap space. The Redskins now need another linebacker. They could move Lemar Marshall to the weakside and sign another middle linebacker. Or they could simply sign a weakside 'backer. Regardless, the answer is not yet on the roster, unless they feel Chris Clemons is ready. Hard to answer that one now.

It helps Arrington, too. Had he not done this move, Arrington would have been cut after July 15, when a sizable bonus would have kicked in. And he would have been left scrounging for a team that could use, and afford him. Chances are, a one-year deal would have occured.

Now he can choose the team he wants. I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles are on the list. They're in his home state and near his treasured Penn State. They need outside linebackers and have cap room. Also, he could probably keep his home in Annapolis. Heck, it's not much further to drive to Philly from there than it is to get to Redskins Park.

But who knows.

Today is about the unfortunate end of an era. Perhaps it just wasn't going to work with this coaching staff. He clashed with position coach Dale Lindsey and, in the end, that matters a great deal. That's who he spends time with. If he's not sure that person is in his corner, then it's difficult to play the way you need to. That's not a knock on Lindsey; he's a good coach. It's just how it is.

Lindsey said he'd have no problems if Arrington returned. He's an old-school coach. He wants his guys to play a certain way and prepare a certain way.

Arrington is becoming a better student of the game, but has relied on instincts and athleticism in the past. Plus he's not afraid to say if he's being mistreated. Not everyone likes that.

Before the Tampa Bay playoff game, Arrington tried to decline interviews. And he said he would limit all his answers to, ''Tampa Bay.'' So I had fun with that, asking him questions that would make the answer, ''Tampa Bay'' a bit funny. Some worked; some didn't. But the last one was this: where do you want your position coach to go? Arrington laughed as he walked closer to his car in the parking lot and said, ''Tampa Bay!'' He was kidding. Sort of. But it was also revealing.

There's no doubt Arrington was hurt by all that happened here the past two years. He loved everything about being a Redskin, from his relationship with the fans to the history of the organization. That all mattered to him.

But, in the end, he was willing to give that up for his freedom.

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