- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

The Washington Redskins are considering whether to file tampering charges against the Oakland Raiders for contacting former Redskins cornerback Deion Sanders in violation of NFL rules.
The Redskins own the rights to Sanders, who said yesterday he has discussed the possibility of coming out of retirement to join the Raiders for the playoffs. The Raiders admitted yesterday that they had contacted Sanders.
The Redskins placed Sanders on the "reserve retired" list last year after he refused to report to new coach Marty Schottenheimer and retain his rights indefinitely. The Raiders were required by NFL rules to get the Redskins' permission before contacting Sanders. Redskins sources said the club was not aware that the Raiders were pursuing the Pro Bowl cornerback.
The Redskins last night still were analyzing statements made by Sanders on CBS' "The NFL Today" show, where he has been a studio host for two seasons, in an effort to determine whether they should request sanctions against the Raiders by the league.
The NFL could strip the Raiders of a draft choice or fine them for the infraction.
"I may come back to a playoff team," Sanders said on "The NFL Today." "I've made contact, I have spoken to my attorney, we have spoken to the Oakland Raiders."
The chances of Sanders making a comeback with the Raiders appear to be slim because the Redskins will seek compensation before releasing his rights.
The Redskins could ask Sanders to return the $7.5million of his signing bonus that remains; he earlier returned $500,000 of the bonus to the club as a settlement for breach of contract. That $7.5million would far outweigh any deal "Prime Time" could get from the Raiders.
The Redskins can't trade Sanders because the NFL deadline has passed, but they could deal the rights to him for next season in return for draft picks. Few teams would be willing to make such a trade for an aging corner who might play only one season.
Sanders said he announced the negotiations on air because he didn't want the news to be broken elsewhere. A Raiders official and Sanders' agent, Eugene Parker, confirmed to ESPN that discussions had taken place, but neither said a contract was offered.
Sanders said he would be interested in returning for the playoffs but that he wasn't looking for a season-long commitment.
"I could get off of this desk right now and cover," Sanders said. "I would never come back for a full season because I love my job. But it is intriguing for a playoff run, when it all counts. I like that aspect of it. I'm praying about it, I really am."
The Raiders need help in their secondary, someone to play alongside Pro Bowl safety Rod Woodson. Cornerback Charles Woodson is hampered by a cracked fibula in his right leg, and Tory James could return from a similar injury to play in the season finale against Kansas City on Sunday.
Sanders, 35, signed a blockbuster deal with the Redskins in 2000 that included an $8million bonus. The seven-time Pro Bowl player was beaten for only one touchdown as a Redskin, but he seldom made big plays.
After Schottenheimer was hired in January 2001, Sanders refused to report for offseason camps and even briefly played for baseball's Cincinnati Reds.
However, Sanders wasn't on a major league roster when training camp began; if he had been, he would have been exempt from playing for the Redskins until midseason. Sanders decided to retire rather than play under what he and other veterans considered to be Schottenheimer's heavy-handed style.

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