The clock is ticking on two critical deadlines, one of them hard, one of them self-imposed, that will shape the face of the Washington Redskins for 2006 and for years to come.
The one hard deadline comes at midnight tonight. If that hour passes and Laveranues Coles is still a Redskin, any cap relief the team would get from Coles' forgoing all or part of the $5 million installment he is due on his signing bonus on April 1 will not be credited until 2006. That doesn't mean that Coles will remain a Redskin; he could still be traded and the team could absorb the full cap hit. But that doesn't seem to be something that the Redskins are willing to do. From an article by Jody Foldesy in today's Washington Times:
A trade involving Washington Redskins wide receiver Laveranues Coles just might be back on. The New York Jets, the most likely partner, seemed to breathe life back into the potential deal yesterday by signaling some willingness to work with the respective parties on a swap.The "work with" the Jets now seem willing to do is to give Coles a restructured deal including some guaranteed money so that Coles could give back all or part of the $5 million.
Under terms previously discussed, the Redskins would receive speedy wideout Santana Moss in exchange for Coles. Moss then would receive a new contract from Washington.
However, the specifics of Coles' financial prospects remain uncertain. The Jets could give Coles a new pact as part of the deal, or they could pick up part or all of the $5 million Washington is due to pay Coles on April 1. That $5 million represents the final installment on Coles' original $13 million signing bonus. This will either happen today or it won't happen at all, although a trade of Coles for Moss, or some other player, could still happen if the Redskins are willing to eat the $6 million cap hit due to accelleration of cap hit of his original $13 million sigining bonus.
The Coles situation has been a roller-coaster ride since it was revealed eight days ago that he was unhappy with the Redskins and wanted out. It's been so confusing that the identical article carries two very different headlines on the Washington Post website Sunday night. First, it was this:
After Trade Fails, Coles's Release Appears More LikelyWithin a couple of hours, it was changed to this:
After Trade Fails, Coles's Return Appears More LikelyThat pretty well sums it up. Dan Daly has as good an explanation as any as to the nexus of the confusion:
Frankly, it isn't hard to envision a scenario in which Coles went to Snyder, expressed his willingness to forgo the last installment of his $13Â million signing bonus in exchange for his freedom, and the Redskins owner, imagining what he could do with that $5Â million, saying, "We might be agreeable to that." (He did, I'll just point out, give Deion Sanders a big signing bonus and let him walk after only a year.)
One can also envision Snyder running the idea by Gibbs, and Coach Joe, rightfully, saying, "What are you, crazy? We gave up the 13th pick in the draft for that guy. He caught 90 passes for us last season. We can't just give him away. We've got to get something in return." Speaking of confusion, this article is still up as of Tuesday morning in regards to the Redskins interest in former Tennessee cornerback Samari Rolle. From our good friend Len Pasquarelli at ESPN.com:
Rolle could nab $15M signing bonus from Redskins
Despite denials from team officials, the Washington Redskins are pursuing a deal with cornerback Samari Rolle, one of six veterans released last week by the Tennessee Titans in a bloody salary cap purge, and a player who is among the most coveted free agents in the league.
Several league sources here said that Rolle, a seven-year veteran with superb cover skills, could command a signing bonus of as much as $15 million given the spending habits of Washington owner Daniel Snyder and the team's need for a cornerback.However, both the Times article referenced above and a Post article by Nunyo Demasio say that a potential deal for Rolle is dead or, more accurately, every existed.
Meanwhile, reports of Washington's imminent signing of cornerback Samari Rolle are false, said several sources familiar with the situation. According to one club source, Rolle hasn't even been on Washington's list of free-agent targets, largely because of his asking price. One of the hottest rumors at the Indianapolis combine was Rolle going to Washington for a signing bonus of up to $15 million. (Gregg Williams, Washington's assistant head coach of defense, was Rolle's defensive coordinator at Tennessee for Rolle's first three NFL seasons. And Rolle is a former teammate of Redskins safeties coach Steve Jackson.) However, the misinformation was apparently spread to exploit owner Daniel Snyder's reputation for free spending while increasing Rolle's value in free agency. According to one NFL source, Rolle is scheduled to visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday.So, if we are to believe the local papers, we have ESPN.com's Lenny P. getting played like a fiddle by Rolle's camp in order to drive up his price. Stunning.
The other deadline comes at 4:00 PM today. That's the self-imposed deadline for getting tackle Chris Samuels' contract restructured to give the team relief from his 2005 salary cap hit, which is currently almost $10 million. The team could use the cap room to deal Coles without any cap relief or sign free agents, either those from other teams or their own such as Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce.
A deal between Samuels and the Redskins has appeared to be done for the past several days and it's unclear what the holdup in finalizing it. It's possible that Samuels' agent is actually reading the contract before having his client sign it, something that Lavar Arrington's agents apparently failed to do when he signed his extension late in 2003.
Meanwhile, it appears that Smoot and Pierce will both enter the free agent market at midnight. There is a chance that both will return, with the odds on Pierce being better than those on Smoot. From the Times article:
Some NFL executives believe Pierce will take the Redskins' best offer and shop it at least a day in free agency, but yesterday Pierce said he hoped to be back.
"I'm very optimistic," Pierce said in a phone interview. "Things are looking positive." The fact that the team is not after Rolle makes it more likely that Smoot will be back, but that prospect is still quite problematic. From the Post article:
"Fred's desire is Washington, but there's a whole lot of fish out there in the sea," Smoot's agent, Bus Cooke, said Monday night. "We've had amicable talks with Mr. Snyder and Mr. Gibbs. We'll see how it plays out."