Free Agents and More to Come

The Redskins once again did what is becoming commonplace: they trotted out their newest players. Today, John Hall and Trung Canidate met the media. Tomorrow? Stay tuned.

But, FYI, the Redskins traded a seventh-round pick in 2003 and a fourth-round pick in 2004 for a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft. Why? So they could sign a restricted free agent who would cost them a fifth-round pick (which they had originally traded for guard Brendan Stai).

The Redskins also released Stai today.

But the day belonged to Hall and Canidate. Hall gives Washington someone with a penchant for game-winning kicks, but also inconsistency between the 30-49 yard-line. And his kickoffs, once a solid part of his game, have slipped. He had only five touchbacks last season.

Still, he lasted six years kicking in the Meadowlands, not known for its kind conditions for kickers.

''I saw all the other guys kicking in conditions that were better and fields that were better,'' Hall said. '''It's refreshing to come here to see what I can do in better conditions. But I don't want to make it sound like it was the worst in the world.''

Hall spurned other offers or visits for the same reason the other players who have signed: '''Everything fell in line. I got here and felt comfortable. There was on need to draw it out or see any other teams.''

The Redskins are ecstatic, even if Hall's career percentage is a pedestrian 73.4 percent (perhaps the conditions played a big factor).

''I'll sleep a lot easier,'' said special teams coach Mike Stock. ''When you talk about Christmas presents and needs . . . That was a need. I hope the change will benefit him. A new outlook, new surroundings. He's a strong-minded and strong-willed guy.''

Canidate could be the answer at running back. He enters with question marks: he landed in Rams coach Mike Martz's doghouse last year, in part because of his fumbling and repeating of mistakes out of the backfield.

But the Redskins say he's a nice fit in this offense, which relies on draws and traps--plays that require quick dashes to the hole.

''Sometimes you get behind a guy like Marshall Faulk and you don't do a lot,'' Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. ''He has a lot of speed and an ability to go the distance every time he touches it. He has that big-play potential. . . .He'll average over five yards a carry.''

Spurrier tired of watching his running backs gain a modest four or five yards on draws when he thought many more yards were available.

The Redskins even celebrated Canidate's birthday, wheeling out a cake complete with tiny Redskins helmets, a picture of Canidate in the middle and 26 candles.

''This is a birthday present for me,'' Canidate said about the trade. ''It's a good opportunity to get my career going in the right direction. It was frustrating to sit behind Marshall, but it was an opportunity to learn from the best in the game. I saw how to prepare myself to be a pro.''

As for landing in the supposed doghouse, Canidate left that in the past.

''There are situations in football that you can't explain,'' he said. ''I'm with the Redskins now.''

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