- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. The Washington Redskins worked to finalize a deal with second-round cornerback Fred Smoot last night while engaging in a stalemate with first-round wide receiver Rod Gardner, league sources said.

Both draft picks became holdouts as they missed the first day of training camp at Dickinson College. Smoot could fly here today from Jackson, Miss., but Gardner is more likely to remain in Atlanta.

A deal with Smoot, the 45th overall pick out of Mississippi State, could be announced today. Late yes

terday the sides were speaking to the NFL Management Council about the wording of some incentives, sources said, but the deal appeared virtually complete.

No progress was made with Gardner, though. The basic structure of the contract remained in place for a third day, calling for a five-year pact in excess of $7.5 million with a two-tiered signing bonus of $5.1 million. The second portion of the bonus, or option, will trigger the contract's fifth season.

Settling on a package of incentives and escalators has proved a major hurdle, as it often is for top picks. The sides will continue negotiating today.

Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer commented only generally on the negotiations, with his dominant emotion once again ambivalence.

"I'd like to have them here, but I think you know me," Schottenheimer said with a shrug. "My job and my responsibility are to those 81 [players] who are out there."

That Smoot's talks are wrapping up before Gardner's comes as a bit of a surprise. The Redskins and Smoot had to overcome fundamental differences in their opinions of his value.

Smoot was considered one of the draft's top corners, but he fell into the middle of the second round because of off-field concerns, specifically a marijuana charge that later was dropped. The Redskins believed Smoot should be slotted at his draft position and even then paid like a risk; Smoot's camp thought he should be paid like a first-rounder.

Terms of Smoot's contract were unclear. Slotting him should give him a total signing bonus of $1.3 million to $1.4 million. It is reasonable to think Washington would press for a tiered bonus; in Smoot's case, that would give them something of an insurance policy against off-field transgressions. The contract would be three years with the total bonus upfront, four if it is tiered.

Bankston signs

The Redskins acquired depth along their defensive line by signing veteran Michael Bankston to a one-year, $477,000 deal.

Bankston, 31, could back up both end and tackle positions if he wins a roster spot. In addition to versatility, the nine-year veteran also brings durability, having played in all 144 games for the Phoenix/ Arizona Cardinals (1992-97) and Cincinnati Bengals (1998-2000) since entering the league.

Washington has high hopes for end Derrick Ham, who stood out in NFL Europe in the spring of 2000 but got buried on last season's depth chart. And at tackle the club believes Delbert Cowsette, Jerry DeLoach or sixth-round pick Mario Monds can win significant playing time. But Bankston gives the Redskins a proven performer.

Bankston was one of four free agents to work out after the morning session, along with former Cincinnati running back Ki-Jana Carter, veteran cornerback/punt returner Darrien Gordon and former New York Jet Dorian Boose. Schottenheimer said the club will decide soon whether Carter is too much of a durability risk and will keep Gordon and Boose in mind as camp progresses.

Carter, 27, has been plagued by injuries since being the No. 1 overall pick of the 1995 draft. He suffered a torn ACL and missed his rookie year, fractured a wrist and missed 15 games in 1998 and dislocated a kneecap and missed 13 games of 1999. He ended up playing just 32 games in five seasons for the Bengals.

"I'm ready to go," said Carter, who worked out recently for Miami. "It's been like a year for me to get a chance to come out here and work out… . So far, so good. Hopefully I can get on a team soon."

Washington recently traded for running back Robert Arnaud in its search to replace Skip Hicks but does not have anyone with NFL experience to back up Stephen Davis.

Extra points

The team came out at 8 a.m., about a half-hour early, for the first practice. Schottenheimer explained that it was just a matter of doing a walkthrough on the field rather than having a team meeting indoors… .

Young guards Mookie Moore and Derrick Fletcher lined up with the starting unit, a switch of the depth chart after Schottenheimer had said veterans Ben Coleman and Matt Campbell would begin as the starters. This setup could persist for a few days if Coleman is held out to rest a mild knee sprain… .

Kick returner Michael Bates is listed as a running back, but he worked out with the receivers.

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