- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

The Washington Redskins appear unlikely to make a move for quarterback Shane Matthews, who finally was released yesterday by the Chicago Bears after being dangled as trade bait for nearly two months.
Matthews, the Bears' backup last season, was a star at Florida under Redskins coach Steve Spurrier. Washington initially offered a low-round draft pick for Matthews but the Bears held out. Talks later involved swapping late-round selections, but the Redskins ultimately decided not to make the deal.
The apparent final stake came when Washington spent a first-round pick on Tulane star Patrick Ramsey in last weekend's draft. The club now has four quarterbacks on the roster Ramsey, Spurrier protege Danny Wuerffel, Sage Rosenfels and Dameyune Craig and apparently does not intend to add more.
Meanwhile, former first-round wide receiver Michael Westbrook has accepted that he won't return after spending the first seven years of his career with the Redskins. Westbrook was the fourth overall pick in 1995 but his career has been marred by controversy, injuries and last season by the ultra-conservative offense of Marty Schottenheimer.
"The communication [between me and the club] just isn't there," Westbrook said. "I guess I'll just go ahead and move on."
Westbrook intends to sign with a new team soon and said one has shown serious interest. Although he surpassed 1,000 yards receiving just once with the Redskins, in 1999, he had 57 receptions last year, has an ideal frame (6-foot-3, 221 pounds) and is fairly young (29).
Washington this offseason has signed three former Gators receivers Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony and Chris Doering and restructured the contract of Kevin Lockett, last year's No.3 wideout. Joining that group is starter Rod Gardner, third-round draft pick Cliff Russell, and young players Derrius Thompson, Darnerien McCants and Justin Skaggs.
Westbrook said he regrets falling short of his potential in Washington, but he is determined to finish the job elsewhere.
"I look back and say, 'Why did I have to get injured?'" Westbrook said. "If you put me in a lot of famous receivers' situations, I would multiply [their production]. But that's life, that's the nature of the game. I'm not leaving [the NFL] until I prove exactly what I can do."
The Redskins apparently will pass on Matthews despite his low cost and starting experience. Matthews could be had for around the $650,000 minimum and would count only about $450,000 against the cap. He has started 15 NFL games, all in the past three seasons, while Washington's most experienced passer is Wuerffel, whose six starts all came more than three years ago.
The Redskins appear to be done signing free agents until after June1. The club has only about $500,000 of salary cap space following last week's signing of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, and it will need far more than that just to sign its 10 draft picks.
The NFL has not informed clubs yet of their rookie pools a cap-within-the-cap based on the quantity and quality of each team's draft picks but it is safe to say the Redskins' rookie pool will be more than $3million. That cap room will be needed when it comes time to sign the selections, around July.
The biggest source of potential cap space is to cut defensive end Marco Coleman after June1, a saving of $3.5million. The club might try to restructure Coleman's contract to retain him, but the acquisition of veteran Renaldo Wynn and the large potential savings from cutting Coleman will allow Washington to take a hard-line negotiating stance.
The Redskins have just two players besides Coleman whose deals allow for significant savings through restructuring, and neither makes sense. Defensive end Bruce Smith turns 39 in June and any cap savings probably would come due next season or in 2004. Running back Stephen Davis has been told by the team that he will be released after the upcoming season if he does not agree to a new deal. That deal would provide cap relief, but talks are expected to be protracted.
Two Redskins are likely to be released at some point cornerback Donovan Greer and long snapper Ethan Albright but they offer only about $1.2million in combined cap savings.
Ultimately the Redskins' tight cap might prevent them from negotiating an extension for underpaid right tackle Jon Jansen, one of the game's top blockers. Jansen will earn only $563,000 this season and the last year of his rookie contract, 2003, is set to void. Thus, he will be able to test the free agent market next spring if he does not agree to an extension.
Notes The Redskins signed 16 undrafted rookies: Idaho defensive tackle Wil Beck, Florida State offensive lineman Ron Boldin, Penn State linebacker Shamar Finney, Florida running back Robert Gillespie, Michigan State long snapper Tony Grant, Notre Dame safety Ron Israel, Tennessee defensive end Bernard Jackson, Virginia Tech wide receiver Emmett Johnson, Central Florida safety Ricot Joseph, Southern California running back Charlie Landrigan, Appalachian State cornerback Du'Shon Martin, South Carolina offensive lineman Melvin Paige, Appalachian State offensive lineman Wayne Smith, Clemson offensive lineman Akil Smith, Appalachian State running back Jimmy Watkins and Arizona defensive tackle Anthony Thomas.
The club also signed two non-rookie free agents, tight end Leonard Stephens and offensive lineman Leon Hires.

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