- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2000

The Washington Redskins are nearing a deal with rookie offensive tackle Chris Samuels, the draft's No. 3 overall pick, after setting aside stalled negotiations with rookie linebacker LaVar Arrington, the second overall pick.

Redskins chief negotiator Joe Mendes met with Samuels' agent, Jimmy Sexton, Thursday in Memphis, Tenn., after the team submitted its first formal offer Wednesday. The two were expected to meet through Friday in hopes of finalizing a deal.

The sides remain about $700,000 apart in average annual value after agreeing to a $10 million signing bonus and a seven-year contract that allows the final season to be voided, league sources said.

The Redskins' proposal averaged $4.8 million while Samuels seeks $5.5 million, league sources said. Overall, Washington offered $28.8 million over six years, about $4.2 million less than Samuels is seeking. To achieve the maximum value in both proposals, the seventh year would have to be voided.

The Redskins are not commenting on negotiations. Sexton Thursday could not be reached for comment.

The Redskins are trying to make good on owner Dan Snyder's pledge, "Redskins don't hold out," made the day Arrington and Samuels were drafted. But time is running short, as rookies and select veterans report Sunday for the early session of training camp that begins Monday.

Meanwhile, veteran running back Stephen Davis, the team's franchise player, remains unsigned. Full-squad camp begins Thursday.

The Redskins' focus turned to Samuels after talks stalled with Arrington. The team wanted to sign Arrington first, expecting Samuels' contract to fall into place afterward. But in Arrington's deal, the sides have not agreed upon the signing bonus, salary or contract length, according to league sources.

Mendes spent most of last week and the start of this week in Houston negotiating with agents Carl and Kevin Poston. The Postons have not returned repeated phone messages.

The Redskins have offered Arrington a seven-year contract with a voidable final season, a signing bonus of slightly more than $10 million and a maximum value between $33 and $34.8 million over six years, league sources said. The deal would average between $5.5 and $5.8 million annually.

Arrington is believed to be seeking a contract with more voidable years, a larger signing bonus (in excess of $11 million) and a larger average value (upwards of $6 million).

Defensive end Courtney Brown, the draft's No. 1 overall pick by Cleveland, signed a seven-year contract with a maximum value of $36.069 million over six years. Brown received a $10.031 million signing bonus, and a $849,000 reporting bonus.

Receiver Peter Warrick, the No. 4 overall pick by Cincinnati, signed a seven-year contract with a maximum value of $36 million over six years and an $8.47 million bonus.

Negotiations with Davis aren't expected to resume until at least Tuesday when Snyder returns from a trip, league sources said. The Redskins' current offer includes a $5 million signing bonus and heavy incentives, but Davis will not accept that or the one-year, $3.532 million tender offer, league sources have said.

Sixth-round quarterback Todd Husak is the only other unsigned Redskin. Husak wants a two-year contract, instead of the standard three- or four-year deal, but is not a threat to hold out, league sources have said.

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