- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2000

Washington Redskins punter Matt Turk was booted out of town yesterday. The controversial three-time Pro Bowl choice was traded to the Miami Dolphins for a conditional 2001 draft pick.

Turk, who was falsely accused by team management of breaking his finger in a pickup basketball game last season that was dubbed "Fingergate," was expected to be released or traded after an inconsistent season. Indeed, Turk openly asked to be released after the season's end. The Redskins likely will receive a seventh-round pick.

"I'm not really surprised. Thank God somebody wanted me," Turk said. "I like to look forward to the future. I have no hard feelings about the Washington Redskins. They've done me a huge favor sending me to the Miami Dolphins."

Meanwhile, Redskins officials discussed a possible trade for New York Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson on Tuesday, according to NFL sources. Owner Dan Snyder has long sought a playmaking receiver, including failed attempts for Seattle's Joey Galloway and Cincinnati's Carl Pickens, but Washington isn't expected to trade its third overall selection in the April 15 draft for Johnson.

Turk was hampered by back and finger problems for most of the season, missing one game with each injury. His left middle finger was hurt against Arizona on Oct. 17. After the red-eye return flight, Turk reported the injury the following afternoon, suspecting that the finger was jammed. Turk admitted playing basketball at a local gym that night in his regular Monday night league. When the finger remained stiff Wednesday, X-rays revealed a break that required surgery.

Turk averaged only 41.4 yards and netted 35.6, nearly 3 and 1/2 yards less than the past three years when he reached the Pro Bowl. After the season, Turk partially blamed injuries for the slump, though he was out of sync from the preseason on.

The Redskins recently signed punter Rodney Williams and kicker/punter Pete Elezovic and are expected to add another veteran.

The trade ends the three-year local tenure of brothers Dan and Matt Turk. Deep snapper Dan Turk won't return after his bad last-minute snap against Tampa Bay on Jan. 15 prevented Washington from attempting a field goal that could have salvaged the 14-13 playoff loss.

"I'm going to be happy no matter where I'm at," Matt Turk said. "I'm not going to let anyone break me down. I was excited about next season no matter where I was going to be at. I was going to train as hard as I could to be a Redskin or any other team. That was my outlook."

Meanwhile, the Jets are shopping Johnson after his recent vow to hold out unless the final two seasons of his six-year deal, worth $1.7 million and $1.9 million respectively, are re-negotiated. New York won't rework deals with more than one year remaining, however.

Johnson wants to earn more than Galloway, who recently signed a seven-year, $42 million deal when traded to Dallas. Johnson is one of the NFL's finer receivers with 89 catches for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns last season although quarterback Vinny Testaverde was lost for the season in the opening game.

Baltimore is considered the front-runner for Johnson, though Tampa Bay is also interested. The Ravens offered the fifth overall selection for Johnson, but the Jets also want a veteran starter.

The Redskins were among three teams attending a workout by Washington State defensive tackle Rob Meier. Considered one of the top three defensive tackles, Meier (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) ran 40 yards in 4.7 seconds before Washington, Indianapolis and Seattle scouts.

The Redskins also plan to attend workouts by Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington on March 16 and South Dakota running back Jamel White on March 20. Washington would like to take Arrington with the second overall selection. White gained 1,807 yards rushing and 640 yards receiving and scored 24 touchdowns last season.

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