- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Moments after practice Monday, Jason Campbell was handed a sheet of paper with information that will become pertinent when contract talks intensify between his agent and the Washington Redskins.

“Oh my,” Campbell said as he read the guaranteed dollars given to quarterbacks the last two years.

Tony Romo, Dallas: $30 million.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: $20 million.

David Garrard, Jacksonville: $20 million.

Derek Anderson, Cleveland: $14.5 million.

Matt Schaub, Houston: $7 million.

Just as quickly, though, Campbell snapped back to reality. His focus is on playing quarterback for the Redskins, not on the potential financial bonanza.

“I’m not trying to pay attention to it and instead trying to help this team keep moving in the right direction,” he said. “I’m letting [agent Joel Segal] handle that. I’m not trying to get involved.”

Campbell’s six-year contract expires after the 2010 season. Various Redskins sources indicate he is making a base salary of about $1.2 million this year.

Campbell ranks seventh in passer rating (92.4), first in interception percentage (two in 273 attempts) and 11th in completion percentage (64.5), and the Redskins are 6-3 - numbers that make him a long-term extension candidate.

Serving as an ideal comparison is the deal Rodgers signed last month, a six-year, $65 million contract after only seven starts. Campbell will make his 30th start (14-15 record) Sunday when the Redskins host Dallas.

Veteran agent Jack Bechta, who negotiated Cleveland guard Eric Steinbach’s record contract in 2007, said Campbell’s value will increase with his production.

“Nobody should be surprised if they’re already talking,” said Bechta, who also writes for the National Football Post Web site. “Any time a young quarterback is performing well like Jason is, he has lots and lots of leverage.”

Campbell isn’t aware of any talks between Segal and the Redskins and has requested to remain out of the loop until a deal is imminent. Redskins vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato declined comment Tuesday, and Segal didn’t return a phone message.

The last prominent Redskins player to sign an in-season extension was tight end Chris Cooley in September 2007 (six years, $30 million, $14 million guaranteed), and he personally conducted the negotiations with owner Dan Snyder.

“Extensions are weird because they don’t have to be done,” Cooley said. “We didn’t get close in the offseason before, but Dan called me in one day, and we both said we wanted to get it done.”

Cooley went to the meeting armed with information about the extensions signed by Dallas’ Jason Witten (six years, $29 million) and Baltimore’s Todd Heap (six years, $30 million).

Rodgers’ contract serves as a good baseline because Green Bay drafted him directly in front of Campbell in 2005. But Campbell considers their situations different - the Packers wanted to show Rodgers their confidence in him as a long-term starter.

Former Green Bay vice president Andrew Brandt negotiated Rodgers’ rookie contract, which he said was almost identical to Campbell’s deal.

“In this situation, [the new contract] will obviously be a barometer as well as the recent deals for Romo and Garrard,” said Brandt, who left the Packers earlier this year and now teaches at Georgetown University Law School and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “Since it’s the most recent deal and the coincidence factor of them being a pick apart in the draft, I’m sure it will be a key reference point for both sides.”

After 17 starts, Romo signed a seven-year, $67.5 million contract with Dallas last October. Campbell has more starting experience at this point than when Garrard (23 games), Anderson (18), Rodgers (seven) and Schaub (two) signed their new contracts. Schaub’s deal came after Atlanta traded him to Houston.

Brandt, who negotiated Brett Favre’s 10-year, $101 million contract for Green Bay in 2001, said 30 starts is enough of a sample size to determine a player’s worth.

“You’ve obviously seen teams make judgments earlier than that,” Brandt said. “But it’s more than playing. It’s watching a player in his preparation, his commitment to his teammates, his leadership ability. With [Rodgers], we knew him the three years he wasn’t playing, and there was a commitment that extended well beyond what they saw in his first seven games.”

Segal has a long working relationship with Snyder and Cerrato, so Bechta expects a seamless negotiation once the sides pick up the dialogue. Segal represents LaRon Landry and facilitated the deal last week for two-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

Brandt expects a relatively easy negotiation between Campbell and the Redskins.

“When you have a player you know is your future and you know relatively where the market is, there are a lot of pieces in place,” Brandt said. “In this situation, there seems to be reference points and commitments from the organization and the player.”

Campbell said it’s been easy to remain patient while other quarterbacks get their big paydays but understands the importance of a long-term commitment by the Redskins.

“I’m moving into the middle part of my career,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m where I want to be and doing what I need to be doing to help my team week in and week out while maturing as a quarterback because when I’m done, I want to be one of the elite in the game.”