- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2009

It may not duplicate the chaos of 2004 or 2006, when the Washington Redskins traveled the country to spend millions on free agents or veterans acquired in trades.

But when free agency started Friday at 12:01 a.m., all accounts had the Redskins gearing up to make a bigger splash than last year.

“Based on what they did last year, it looked like they wanted to be fiscally conservative and look for bargains,” a league source said Thursday. “But it might be a one-year aberration. They look like they’re ready to open the checkbook again.”

That could be good news for Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who was expected to be contacted by the Redskins minutes after midnight. It could be bad news for free agent cornerback DeAngelo Hall and players under contract whose salary cap numbers make them vulnerable.

The Redskins’ only activity Thursday was tendering restricted free agents Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston to the lowest salary ($1.01 million).

As teams worked to create more space under the new $127.05 million salary cap, one of the players who hit the market was Buffalo left guard Derrick Dockery. He began his career with the Redskins before signing a seven-year, $49 million contract in March 2007.

The 28-year-old Dockery would be a natural fit if the Redskins believe Pete Kendall, who will turn 36 this summer, can’t hold up for another year.

Fitting Dockery under the cap might be difficult if Washington is serious about Haynesworth or even Hall. According to a source with knowledge of the Redskins’ salary cap, the team is $8 million under counting the Montgomery and Golston tenders.

The Redskins didn’t tender restricted free agents Reed Doughty, Justin Geisinger and Rian Wallace by Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline, and they are free to negotiate with other teams.

Golston appeared in 13 games last year and posted 28 tackles, two sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

Montgomery played in 14 games and recorded 23 tackles, two sacks and five quarterback hurries.

If a team extends an offer sheet to either player, the Redskins have seven days to match or will be compensated with a fifth-round pick for Montgomery and a sixth-round pick for Golston.

Despite having Cornelius Griffin and Lorenzo Alexander under contract and being in control of Montgomery and Golston’s rights, the team is expected to join Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Detroit in pursuit of Haynesworth, the Titans’ 320-pound bulldozer. Haynesworth wants to become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player regardless of whether it’s with a team that went 0-16 last year like Detroit or a playoff team like Atlanta.

Now that they’re free agents, it’s difficult to determine how Hall and Kendall fall in the Redskins’ plans. Neither player is expected to generate instant attention, but Hall does have value.

Offensive lineman Jason Fabini, safety Mike Green, linebackers Khary Campbell and Alfred Fincher and defensive linemen Demetric Evans and Ryan Boschetti became unrestricted free agents at 12:01 a.m.

The Redskins need to address strongside linebacker, left guard and punter.

Indianapolis punter Hunter Smith is on the market after 10 years with the Colts. Even though he made the decision to opt out of his contract, Smith’s representatives couldn’t be contacted by a team until Friday morning.

“It’s a logical destination,” agent Tom Mills said of the Redskins. “We’ve been thinking about them ourselves. … We knew teams would be interested in a veteran punter, and for him it was time for a change.”

Smith averaged 38.8 net yards a punt last year, much better than the Redskins’ 33.4-yard net average, which ranked last in the NFL.

“We started out bad, and we ended up bad,” coach Jim Zorn said at last week’s NFL scouting combine.

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