- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

Dan Wilkinson probably has played his last game as a Washington Redskin.
The club yesterday announced it is placing the hefty defensive tackle on injured reserve because of his torn calf, and his agent admitted that salary cap implications likely will lead to Wilkinson's release.
"The Redskins have been extremely fair with Dan during his time there, but we are assuming that he will be cut after June1," agent George Mav-rikes said.
A $3.6 million savings would accompany Wilkinson's departure during the second wave of free agency. That money could be critical for the Redskins, who are looking to retool their offensive personnel but have little flexibility under the cap.
Only two current Redskins have longer tenures than Wilkinson, who arrived in a 1998 trade with Cincinnati running back Stephen Davis (draft, 1996) and cornerback Darrell Green (draft, 1983).
Davis also is in jeopardy of being cut because of a scheduled $11.4 million cap figure. If he and Wilkinson depart, there would be no Redskins with more than four years tenure. Cornerback Champ Bailey, a 1999 draft pick, would be an elder statesmen.
Punter Bryan Barker also headed to injured reserve yesterday because of his serious nose injury, making official what seemed likely after Thursday's loss at Dallas: that the season had ended for the three players injured that day Wilkinson, Barker and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter (torn ACL and LCL).
The injury to Wilkinson came on a play on which he wasn't touched; like Trotter and linebacker Jessie Armstead, who suffered a minor knee injury, Wilkinson's foot seemed to catch on the artificial surface at Texas Stadium.
The No.1 overall pick out of Ohio State in 1994, Wilkinson has started 75 of 76 games as a Redskin, and he would have a perfect clip if Washington didn't open in a nickel formation Sept. 22 at San Francisco.
Eight sacks and 43 tackles earned Wilkinson honors as Washington's defensive player of the year in 1999. He has continued as a steady run-stopper in recent years even though his pass-rushing has slumped. This season coaches were somewhat disappointed in his productivity (no sacks, 17 tackles) but believed he was improving as the year progressed.
Wilkinson is scheduled to count $5.2 million against next year's cap, and he would count $1.6 million by being released after June1. It's highly unlikely he would be cut before June1, because his prorated signing bonus would accelerate and the move actually would cost, not create, cap space.
Wilkinson was not available for comment. His placement on injured reserve won't be official until today; Barker, in contrast, was placed on the list yesterday and his roster spot was taken by young linebacker Orantes Grant, who spent the past two seasons with the Cowboys.
A briefer stay with the Redskins also could be over for Barker, who suffered an open nasal fracture while recovering a blocked field goal attempt. The 1997 Pro Bowl pick signed with Washington prior to last season and performed fairly well, but struggled at times this year and has the NFL's worst net average (30.0 yards).
The club actually began working out potential replacements for Barker three weeks ago, after he shanked a punt out of the end zone at Jacksonville, setting up a Jaguars touchdown. Rookie Craig Jarrett joined the practice squad when Barker sprained his ankle Nov.17 at Giants Stadium, and this week Jarrett returned as Barker's replacement.
"I've never had a season like this, and I'm just going to chalk it up an unnatural season," Barker said with a laugh. "It's number 13. I can't wait until 2003; 2002 has been a bizarre year for me personally and professionally. I'm looking forward to next year."
Barker thought at one point he would play this week against the Giants, but doctors discovered the bleeding had gone into his brain.
Such bleeding, doctors told him, is "very common" with head traumas. They think he will be back to normal, he said, once he waits "four or five weeks for the blood to dissipate." But being hit in the face in the short-term could have led to a "life-threatening" injury.
"I wasn't aware of how serious the injury was until Monday," Barker said. "Their feeling was they couldn't justify clearing me to play, knowing that another hit or blow to the head in any fashion I could be in on a tackle or a sideline play, etc. the likelihood of a serious complication was high."
Barker's injury was gruesome to see, but he felt no pain apart from the initial impact of a Cowboy's knee and he doesn't plan to wear a larger face mask when he makes his planned return to the field.
"It's absolutely a freak injury and a freak circumstance," Barker said. "They've assured me that once the blood goes away, I'll be just as good as anybody who's ever gone through this."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide