- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2000

The Washington Redskins continue spending freely for aging free agents, signing Detroit Lions safety Mark Carrier Thursday to a five-year, $15.9 million deal.

Carrier, who turns 32 on April 28, received a $3 million bonus after earning $800,000 last year. The 10-year veteran skipped his planned trip to the Tennessee Titans after completing the early morning deal. The Redskins then canceled a planned visit by Tennessee safety Marcus Robertson.

Washington continues following San Francisco's former system of high bonuses and backloaded contracts that attracts big-name players and delays heavy impact of the salary cap. Carrier joins Buffalo defensive end Bruce Smith, 37, as short-term free agent stopgaps for the 30th-ranked defense. Indeed, Smith's recent signing was clearly a one-year deal instead of a five-year contract because his salary cap impact grows from $1.38 million this season to $4.65 million in 2001.

The Redskins will now open with a different safety combination for the eighth straight year. However, coach Norv Turner considered Carrier an upgrade over former starter Leomont Evans.

"When you sign someone with that much experience, you get the veteran experience that showed last year with Marco Coleman and Larry Centers," Turner said. "There aren't many things that he hasn't seen. With Sam Shade and Mark, we have one of the better pair of safeties in the league."

Said player personnel director Vinny Cerrato: "Mark Carrier is a very intelligent and intense player. He can serve as the quarterback of the secondary … and has proven to be a team leader."

Carrier has 31 interceptions and 971 tackles in 149 starts. The sixth overall pick in 1990 by the Chicago Bears where he played seven seasons before joining Detroit in 1997, Carrier is a three-time Pro Bowler and the 1990 defensive rookie of the year. Ironically, two of Carrier's best games came against the Redskins with three interceptions on Dec. 9, 1990 and 14 tackles on Nov. 9, 1997.

Carrier was disciplined seven times by the NFL for improper use of the helmet or fighting. Combined, Carrier was suspended two games and fined $87,500 including $50,000 for an illegal hit against Green Bay receiver Antonio Freeman last season for the infractions. He also was fined $1,500 for being part of the Washington-Detroit fight on Jan. 8.

Evans said not being among several veterans who spoke to owner Dan Snyder at season's end signaled his departure after starting 15 games last year. Evans plans to visit several teams in the coming weeks.

"I'm 25 years old and have a lot of playing left," said Evans, one of the more popular lockerroom figures. "I was hoping I would get a chance to stay. It's still hard to take in, but things happen. If they think they can upgrade that position they'll do it."

Notes The Redskins appear near re-signing center Cory Raymer. The unrestricted free agent has missed only one snap in two seasons and started 35 straight games… .

Washington safety Matt Stevens declined a Denver offer that included a $300,000 bonus and will visit Detroit… .

Redskins pro scouting coordinator Chuck Banker resigned to take a similar job with the Houston expansion team headed by former Washington general manager Charley Casserly. Former Atlanta scout Melvin Bratton replaces Banker… .

The Redskins are still finalizing plans to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason scrimmage on July 29 at FedEx Field.

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