Redskins Free Agency Update

The Redskins apparently have agreed to a deal with free agent guard Randy Thomas, which is expected to be announced at a 4 p.m. press conference Saturday. Thomas, and left guard Dave Fiore, solve Washington's biggest problem this past season. But what else do the Skins have planned?

One NFL source said Washington probably overpaid for Thomas, who received a $7 million signing bonus. But the Redskins had to: if Thomas were allowed to leave and visit Dallas or Tampa Bay, he might not have returned. He has strong ties with both places because of coaches, including Bill Parcells.

Thomas is a strong pickup. He's not a mauler type, but that's not what Washington needs. He's a finesse player, making him a solid fit in Steve Spurrier's system. And he plays hurt, lasting all season despite a banged-up shoulder. He's also played through ankle sprains and shoulder and knee pains.

Thomas had a bad game against Oakland in the playoffs, but as a source close to the Jets said, ''it was one bad game among many good ones.'' He traps well and is a good blocker.

For the Redskins, snagging Thomas was the end of what could be a memorable day. None of these players have star power. But all could be solid contributors.

There could be another signing announced at the press conference. Defensive lineman Regan Upshaw also was in town tonight. Defensive tackle Brandon Noble was at Redskins Park earlier in the day.

. . . Receiver Rocket Ismail left town without a contract, though he spent the day driving around Ashburn looking at houses. Still, he didn't sign anything. If the Redskins signed him, he'd be a No. 3 receiver, similar to the role played by Irving Fryar a few years ago--but with more speed.

. . . Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener will visit Denver on Monday. He appears long gone.





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