- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2000

No one knows Brian Mitchell's future with the Washington Redskins, even Mitchell himself. And he's wondering why.

Interviewed yesterday, Mitchell said he "basically" would play for less money to remain a Redskin, but added: "None of that talk is ever coming back to me. That's one thing that kind of bothers me. You hear about that salary cap stuff, but no one has ever contacted me or come to me to talk about it."

Mitchell is one of several high-profile Redskins who might end up victims of the salary cap. The Redskins are $2.3 million over the cap when considering their rookie pool number $5.9 million, highest in the NFL which applies to the eight players they drafted last month.

But contracts can be reworked; cap impact almost always can be delayed. So until the ax falls, Mitchell and other potential cap victims are staying in shape and helping the Redskins prepare for next season even if it isn't always easy.

"It's frustrating," Mitchell said. "[But] it's business. And the business mindset for me is, 'Hey, why not be out here and doing the things I can do to keep my timing down and make sure I'm ready to perform for whoever calls me.' Hopefully it's the Redskins [who call], and I've got a feeling I will be here."

Mitchell will have a $1.65 million impact on the salary cap next season if he's right. If not, wide receiver James Thrash is set to take over kickoff and punt return duties, and fullback Larry Centers or running back Adrian Murrell could perform as the third-down back.

In addition, cornerback Champ Bailey will challenge to be the punt returner, as would Dallas star Deion Sanders, if he signs following his likely release from the Cowboys. Sanders' arrival almost certainly would force out Mitchell; without Sanders, the Redskins would be more likely to retain Mitchell for an 11th season.

Redskins player personnel director Vinny Cerrato, asked if there was enough cap room for Mitchell, replied: "Right now, it looks like Brian is a member of the team and we're going forward with everything as usual."

Larry Bowie, whose cap impact is $850,000 for 2000, is another Redskin who might fall prey to cap management. His role has diminished after consecutive years in which he broke his left ankle. Last year Bowie was replaced by Centers, who ended up leading the team with 69 receptions.

Bowie's agent, Jack Reale, yesterday said he had not spoken to the Redskins. Bowie said he wants to remain a Redskin; Reale considered it premature to discuss Bowie playing for less money.

Said Bowie: "I'm just going to do what I have to do. Whatever happens, happens."

Veteran punter arrives

Tom Hutton, one of two veteran punters scheduled to try out this week, impressed with a solid workout on the first day of a four-day veteran camp, which follows last weekend's minicamp.

"He punted the ball extremely well," coach Norv Turner said. "He had good leg strength, and he's extremely accurate. He's one of the better directional punters I've seen."

Hutton, 27, was with Miami last season and Philadelphia for four seasons before that. During his stint with the Eagles, he once sparked Mitchell's ire by kicking away from him. After finally kicking one to Mitchell, Mitchell made a big return and gave Hutton an earful.

"I tell you what," Hutton said, "[Redskins kicker] Brett [Conway] … was telling me [the Redskins] are trying to get Deion [Sanders]. I said, 'Man, if you can get Brian Mitchell and Deion on the same team, I'd be a happy man. I'd never have to [punt to either one].' "

Hutton is not scheduled to work out for any other teams. Fellow veteran Tommy Barnhardt, 36, who punted for New Orleans the past eight seasons, will work out today. Rodney Williams, playing in NFL Europe, continues to lead the league with a 38.8-yard net average.

Four rookies released

Punter Kareem Anderson, offensive tackle Clint Bendele, offensive guard Eric Cole and long snapper Todd Pollack were released. Pollack's release leaves long-snapping duties to Joe Zelenka, whom the Redskins obtained from San Francisco. Said Cerrato: "It was [Pollack's] choice. He wanted to leave."

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