- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

The Washington Redskins released veterans Jeremiah Trotter, Trung Canidate and Dave Fiore yesterday, a trio of post-June 1 cuts that cleared $4.715 million of salary cap space.

Redskins officials declined to comment until the moves are formally processed by the NFL, but team sources said the club submitted the names of all three players to the league shortly after the close of business yesterday. Once the transactions are processed today, Trotter, Canidate and Fiore all will appear on the NFL waiver wire and will be free to sign with another club beginning at 4:01p.m.

The moves had been expected for some time for both financial and on-field reasons. Though all three players began the 2003 season in the Redskins’ starting lineup, none was expected to retain his role under new coach Joe Gibbs. And the combined cap space Washington will recoup leaves the club in sound shape as it prepares to open negotiations with a four-man draft class that includes No.5 pick overall Sean Taylor.

Trotter’s release alone saves the Redskins $2.7 million of cap space. The 27-year-old linebacker, who signed a seven-year, $35.5 million contract in 2002, would have counted $5.81 million against the cap had he been cut before June 1.

By waiting until yesterday afternoon to make the move, Washington is now on the books for only $1.162 million in 2004 (a one-year, prorated portion of Trotter’s signing bonus money). The remaining $4.648 million of bonus money Trotter received will count as “dead money” on the 2005 cap.

Several teams are likely to show interest in Trotter, a two-time Pro Bowl player with the Philadelphia Eagles before a knee injury and inconsistent play hindered his production the last two seasons with the Redskins. The New York Giants and New Orleans Saints are expected to be among the most ardent pursuers.

The Redskins had no financial reasons to wait until June 1 to release Canidate, because the running back already was in the final year of his contract. Still playing under the five-year deal he signed with the St. Louis Rams as a rookie, the 27-year-old was due to make $915,000 in base salary this season with no outstanding bonus money.

Canidate, though, did not fit into Gibbs’ offensive plan, particularly after the Redskins acquired tailback Clinton Portis from the Denver Broncos in March. Some thought he would get a chance to win the primary backup job during training camp, but Gibbs is said to prefer third-year back Ladell Betts for that role. Canidate also has been slow to recover from a foot injury that left him inactive for Washington’s final three games last season.

Fiore’s release does have a financial upside. The Redskins save $1.1 million against the cap, and by waiting until June 1 to cut the 29-year-old offensive lineman, they are on the books for only a $375,000 prorated portion of his signing bonus in 2004.

Washington still will be charged with $750,000 of dead money on Fiore next year, but given his $1.5 million base salary in 2005 and $1.7 million in 2006, the club was more than willing to take on the relatively small cap hit in exchange for cutting the injury-plagued lineman.

Notes — The Redskins will sign veteran Fred Baxter to compete for a backup tight end job in training camp. NFL sources said Baxter, who played the last two of his 12 professional seasons with the New England Patriots, will sign a one-year, $760,000 deal with Washington. He will have to beat out third-year veteran Robert Royal for a roster spot backing up starting tight end Walter Rasby. …

Gibbs will hold his final minicamp this weekend at Redskin Park and will close all but the first 15 minutes of Friday’s opening practice to members of the media. Reporters had been permitted to watch all of the practice sessions at Washington’s two previous minicamps this spring, but Gibbs has said he does not want his players to be distracted by onlookers.

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