- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

Cornerback Deion Sanders believes the Washington Redskins finally will release him when training camp begins in late July if he is still playing baseball for the Cincinnati Reds.

"I think they're really trying to see how baseball pans out," Sanders said yesterday in an interview on WTEM (AM-980). "I don't think they want to release me on the first day they could, June 1. [Then] if something goes wrong in baseball and I'm not [in the majors], the next thing you know I'm free. Then I could have the possibility of going to another [NFL] team and you're playing against me.

"I don't think they want that to happen. If I'm still in baseball at the beginning of training camp, then they'll release me. They're just protecting themselves."

Indeed, Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer appears ready to let Sanders' baseball career reach its own resolution over the next few weeks, though it remains unclear whether Sanders and Schottenheimer can reconcile sufficiently to team up this season.

In yesterday's mostly conciliatory interview, Sanders did attempt to smooth over parts of the situation. He said, for example, that he intends to play for the Redskins if he returns to the NFL and that he was misquoted this week when he reportedly said he would not trust Schottenheimer as far as he could throw him.

Sanders' Redskins contract allows him to miss mandatory team sessions including training camp and regular season games as long as the absence is due to playing major league baseball games.

Washington was prepared to release Sanders in the second phase of free agency, which begins June 1, before he bottomed out in baseball. He is hitting just .174, and this week Reds manager Bob Boone questioned whether Sanders could continue in Cincinnati when several injured Reds return late this month.

The Redskins' release of safety Mark Carrier on Tuesday made it possible to keep Sanders, 33. However, the club still must rework several contracts for that to happen. So if Sanders is playing baseball in mid-July, the Redskins might end the stare-down, cut him and gain enough salary cap room to sign their draft picks.

If Sanders is cut by the Reds and kept by the Redskins, he must report to camp. Failure to do so would put the prorated portion of his $8 million signing bonus, $6.857 million, in jeopardy. Yesterday Sanders ducked the question of what he would do in that scenario.

"I can't answer that question," Sanders said. "I'm not even thinking about that right now. It's not that I'm avoiding it, but that's the farthest thing from my mind."

But Sanders is not worried about being cut, saying, "If that happens, that's God's will. I'm OK with that. I'm confident [enough] as a person to know that if you release me, that doesn't constitute that I'm a failure as a person."

Perry to work out

Free agent free safety Darren Perry is scheduled to work out today at Redskin Park. A starter for the New Orleans Saints' eighth-ranked defense last season, Perry is the first player the Redskins will evaluate to replace Carrier.

Perry, 32, has started 126 games since being an eighth-round choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992. The Norfolk native spent 1999 in retirement before returning to play for the Saints, who rode their stellar defense to the NFC Divisional round.

New Orleans replaced Perry with Jay Bellamy this offseason, citing the need for more speed at the safety position. However, the club believed Perry's knowledge of the game played a key role in the defensive success of last year.

Brock Marion (lately of Miami), Jason Belser (Indianapolis), Keith Lyle (St. Louis) and Scott Shields (Pittsburgh) also are available starting-quality free safeties.

Also, the Redskins might look next week at free agent linebacker Lonnie Marts, a June 1 cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Marts, an NFL starter from 1993 to 1999, can play middle and outside linebacker. He played under Schottenheimer from 1990 to 1993 on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Extra points

When the current stretch of offseason practices began, guard Derrick Fletcher struggled through wind sprints, unable to even finish one day. But he has made marked improvement over the past few weeks, and yesterday he stayed after practice with tackle Chris Samuels to run voluntary sprints… .

Defensive tackle Mario Monds and offensive linemen Tam Hopkins, two rookies, should join next week's final practices. Monds and Hopkins could not return to the club until their college classes graduated. Defensive end Bruce Smith also should return next week after being excused this week… .

New Redskins vice president of player personnel John Schneider is interviewing candidates for the director of pro personnel and director of college scouting jobs. Having visited are Tag Ribary, Jeff Ireland, Lake Dawson and former Redskins scout Bobby DePaul. Trent Kirschner has been hired to assist the college scouting director… .

Former Redskins running back Adrian Murrell was released by the Carolina Panthers, who replaced him with former Steeler Richard Huntley. Murrell, 30, was not re-signed by Washington after rushing for 50 yards on 20 carries last season.

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