- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2000

The Washington Redskins could complete their hot pursuit of cornerback Deion Sanders today. Agent Eugene Parker arrives at Redskin Park after heavy weekend negotiations on a deal that now includes an $8 million-plus bonus.

Parker failed to arrive yesterday as expected because of flight problems. However, Redskins player personnel director Vinny Cerrato and Parker continued to finalize a deal via telephone that should reach five or six years. Meanwhile, Sanders attended church in Washington after arriving Saturday night.

Washington seemingly is the front-runner for Sanders, though the St. Louis Rams reportedly want him to visit. Parker downplayed St. Louis as a serious contender, saying, "I've heard secondhand that they're interested, but I have not talked to anyone from the Rams. They may want him to visit, but there's nothing set up right now."

Tampa Bay is considered the only other interested team. Denver, Minnesota and Jacksonville have cooled on the corner, while Dallas would have re-signed Sanders only if he didn't receive a lucrative free agency deal.

The Redskins want to sign Sanders soon to prevent him from visiting other teams, which could increase the bidding. Team officials have trimmed Sanders' initial demand for a $10 million bonus but not to the $6 million they wanted. The overall package will be misleading because Sanders isn't expected to play more than two or three seasons. He turns 33 on Aug. 9 and has been hampered by injuries the last two years. Sanders must pass an extensive physical exam before signing because of offseason knee surgery.

Cornerback Darrell Green, who will become the nickel back should Sanders sign despite signing a five-year, $10 million deal May 30, has become an open advocate for obtaining Sanders.

"It's a no-brainer. He helps our team," Green said. "We want players who can get on the field and help us win. We haven't won in a long time around here, so we welcome Deion Sanders with open arms. This guy is a talented player. He can change the course of a game. If we're serious about what we're trying to accomplish, you better want Deion Sanders on your team."

Indeed, Green felt signing "Prime Time" wouldn't create problems in the locker room.

"No, I don't. I tell you that sincerely," he said. "Actually, I've never seen a chemistry problem within a football team. A lot of times people say, there's a quarterback controversy. I've never really seen a quarterback controversy. There are players competing, trying to win, and that's part of the game. But as far as the continuity, I don't think we'll have a problem with that."

Defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield understands pressure on prominent free agents. He signed a blockbuster deal in 1998 after being named NFL defensive player of the year with San Francisco in 1997. However, Stubblefield played poorly in the team's 0-7 start before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered at his home.

"I don't think [Sanders will] have all that pressure on himself with all the people we got this offseason," he said. "The first thing is you have to learn your plays and role on the team. Once the season gets going, that's when you earn the respect of your teammates. Is he going to be there when it counts?"

After signing Sanders, the Redskins will focus on first-round choices LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels. Cleveland receiver Peter Warrick, the fourth selection overall, agreed to a seven-year, $42 million deal with a bonus of reportedly more than $10 million yesterday. Arrington and Samuels, as the second and third choices overall, respectively, now have a base comparison for their bonuses.

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