- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2002

The Washington Redskins are shopping their top selection in Saturday's draft throughout the first round, hoping to gain either a marquee player or extra picks.
Vice president of football operations Joe Mendes yesterday confirmed the Redskins have discussed possible trades for both before and after their 18th selection. However, Mendes doesn't feel compelled to make a deal.
"There's a lot of teams that are kicking tires as far as going both directions, up and down. Frankly, we would be one of those teams. You have to look both directions," Mendes said. "How is it best for the organization to maximize the pick? Is it best to move up and get one quality player or move down and still get a quality player and multiple picks?"
Meanwhile, Washington appears the front-runner for Phil-adelphia Eagles free agent middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter after offering a multi-year deal averaging $4 million, according to NFL sources.
The expansion Houston Texans seem less interested while Green Bay is seeking a modest deal. Minnesota is also reportedly interested.
Trotter's scheduled meeting with Green Bay tomorrow was postponed until next week. However, the Packers are seeking a less lucrative contract pending June 1 when gaining salary cap room. Houston general manager Charley Casserly said he didn't forsee a deal before the draft.
"I don't anticipate anything happening on our end right now," Casserly said. "So we're going to take the best players up there in the draft and not anticipate that we're signing anybody before Saturday."
Washington coaches and owner Dan Snyder met with Trotter recently and discussed a contract. The Redskins won't get outbid by a modest deal and are dangling the chance to play the Eagles twice annually, which Trotter would like for potential payback after an acrimonious parting.
The Redskins are hoping to gain a defensive tackle in the first round, though the four highest-rated ones are expected to be gone when Washington picks.
The Redskins also are expected to look at receiver, quarterback and guard with the first-round pick. Indeed, Washington may try to trade into the top 10 to take Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington. However, coach Steve Spurrier continued to back quarterback Danny Wuerffel as the potential starter.
"I know [ESPN draft guru] Mel Kiper is not going to believe me, but we're going to be fine at quarterback and wide receiver," Spurrier said. "We can line up and play without drafting at those positions."
Mendes said he wouldn't necessarily hold to the traditional "best player available" theory and will consider positional needs if potential players are rated nearly evenly.
"Everything isn't black and white. You don't shellac that board and take them exactly the way they're layered," Mendes said. "There's a little bit of logic and common sense to this process."
The Redskins have taken six starters in the first two rounds in each of the past three years, but little otherwise. While running back Stephen Davis was a steal in the 1996 fourth round, the Redskins are looking for eventual starters in the draft's second day. Mendes said credit for finding late gems is overrated.
"People want to take credit for these late-round finds," he said. "Well, if they were so right they should have taken them earlier."
It's Mendes' first draft as the Redskins' front office head, and Spurrier is also making his pro debut. Snyder, meanwhile, has an increased role in his third draft. The trio refuse to say whether one person has the final say if there are disagreements over who to choose.
"The way we're setting up the draft, it's not really who breaks ties because it's all the work that goes into the preparation," Snyder said. "Things have a natural evolution process."

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