- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2003

Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener returned to town yesterday and expressed frustration that his contract talks with the Washington Redskins remain stalled.
"They had enough time to see what they need," Gardener said at Redskin Park. "If I'm not going to be here, I want to know now before I get on that plane Friday or sometime next week. I want to know right off the bat, because there's no sense in me exhausting myself and trying to make this [relationship] stick if they don't want it to stick."
Gardener, who turns 30 later this month, was named Washington's player of the year in 2002 after emerging as a disruptive force on the interior defensive line. He clearly is the most significant of the 10 Redskins who are set to become unrestricted free agents on Feb.28 players with whom the club has exclusive negotiating rights until then.
Remaining a Redskin was all but certain in Gardener's mind when he left town at season's end. He didn't want to talk to other teams. In fact, he didn't carry any of his belongings out of Redskin Park and said that day in the parking lot, "I know for a fact, 100 percent, that I'll be a Redskin."
But talks have been at a standstill, and Gardener is wondering why. Yesterday, as he did in an interview last month, he spoke of "options" namely reuniting with former Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, now Cincinnati's coach, or playing for Dallas coach Bill Parcells.
"I came [to Washington] because of Marvin Lewis and [owner] Dan Snyder believing in me," Gardener said. "When Marvin Lewis left, I had to think about what's going on. So now it's a consideration to go to Cincinnati. And Bill Parcells enters into the league, and he's one of the coaches I've always wanted to play for, [along] with Jimmy Johnson. … There's options now."
Gardener, who will turn 30 later this month, intends to meet with Snyder and/or vice president of football operations Joe Mendes over the next few days. He said he's not trying to pressure the team, only attempting to gauge its intentions. Mendes could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I came up to work out for this week and then while I'm here to speed up the process," Gardener said. "It's crunch time. Not that I'm putting any pressure on these guys, but they need to know that this offseason is important to preparing for the season."
Gardener believes he can begin preparation for 2003 in earnest once he is signed. He wants to move his workout regimen to Redskin Park and begin studying film.
"The real studying of the opponents is during the offseason when you just go to the film room and just randomly pick up a tape and then look at somebody," Gardener said. "You're able to critique because you're not under pressure."
Ultimately, Gardener said his wait has been "not all frustrating." He understands why a deal hasn't gotten done so far because Washington coaches and officials have been reviewing film of the season and trying to devise a plan for the offseason.
"It's a little disappointing and frustrating," Gardener said. "But to say I'm overall frustrated, no. Because if it was me [running the Redskins] and I had the money to do this, I'd probably be in the same position [as club officials]."
Washington's two other major projected moves before free agency are re-signing defensive lineman Carl Powell and releasing running back Stephen Davis.
There have been no substantive discussions regarding Powell in recent weeks but significant groundwork was laid before the season ended. Davis, meanwhile, will be cut sometime between Feb.20, when NFL rosters are unfrozen, and Feb.28 (the day the 2003 salary cap takes effect).
Defensive coordinator George Edwards has said he hopes both Gardener and Powell re-sign.

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