- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2000

Six teams have called the Washington Redskins to inquire about trading for the second or third selections in Saturday's NFL Draft, team sources said, following the Cleveland Browns' heavy contract negotiations Thursday with Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown as the top pick.

With Cleveland trying to finalize a deal with Brown's agent Marvin Demoff in New York, Washington suddenly has become the focus of trade talks leaguewide. However, team sources said the Redskins still seem ready to draft Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels and Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington.

Indeed, the Redskins' biggest decision could be whether to take Samuels or Arrington first. Team sources said Washington may choose Samuels first because offensive tackles traditionally receive less money than linebackers. However, the selection order won't make a significant difference in combined compensation.

Meanwhile, the Redskins are seeking to trade their third-rounder for two fourth-round picks. Team officials called Green Bay, San Francisco, Denver, Minnesota, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Tennessee to discuss possible draft-day trades. Each team has two fourth-rounders except Green Bay, which has three. The Redskins believe the draft is talent-laden in the middle rounds with less costly players.

The Redskins won't make any moves until the Browns announce their choice. While Cleveland officials also met with Arrington's agent Carl Poston, the Browns are expected to finalize a deal with Brown by Saturday morning. NFL sources said Cleveland has raised its first offer from seven years, $34 million to more than $45 million with a $12 million-plus bonus.

Any last-minute snags could bring a deal with Arrington, though. The Redskins want Arrington to fill a hole at outside linebacker, but coach Norv Turner said he would gladly take Brown if he is bypassed by Cleveland despite the Redskins' recent signings of ends Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman.

"I don't think there's anyone who's ever coached who would ever turn down a great defensive lineman," Turner said. "The best defensive teams have six, seven linemen."

Certainly owner Dan Snyder has floated trade proposals in the past week despite the desire of Turner and player personnel director Vinny Cerrato to keep both picks. Team sources said recent internal discussions seemed to have discouraged trade possibilities, but the resurgence of outside interest will have the Redskins taking their full 15 minutes between picks to consider options.

However, any offer must be worth more than the 12th and 24th overall picks, plus fourth- and fifth-rounders that Washington traded to San Francisco for the third selection. The New York Jets considered deals that would send either all of their four first-rounders or three firsts and a second-rounder to Cleveland or Washington to gain Brown. However, Jets sources said New York now hopes to package two first-rounders to move up in the draft and use at least one first on a receiver to replace Keyshawn Johnson, who was traded to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

The Redskins seem committed to taking one of the Penn State defenders to bolster their 30th-ranked defense. If Arrington is gone, though, the Redskins would be less pressed to take Brown because they already have four current or former starting ends on the roster.

Washington also has some leeway on Samuels. The recent re-signing of incumbent starter Andy Heck could allow the Redskins to take a lucrative trade offer for one of the first-rounders and wait until next year before gaining a left tackle through free agency. Meanwhile, offensive tackle Derek Smith or Heck could be a one-year stopgap.

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