- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey tops a list of potential rookie holdouts, perhaps the longest in recent memory for the club, as opening of training camp looms.
Unsigned as of yesterday evening were Ramsey, the club's first-round selection, as well as second-round running back Ladell Betts and both third-round picks, cornerback Rashad Bauman and wide receiver Cliff Russell. All four were in danger of being absent when camp opens tomorrow morning at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.
The sides were extremely far apart in Ramsey's case essentially no progress had been made despite a week of on-and-off discussions. No aspects of Ramsey's contract signing bonus, salaries, escalators or incentives had been agreed to.
The Redskins have faced extra time pressure this summer to sign their picks because of an early opening to camp. The Aug.3 exhibition in Osaka, Japan, forced the Redskins and San Francisco 49ers to start training several days earlier than most NFL clubs.
Last summer the Redskins had two holdouts first-round receiver Rod Gardner missed four days and second-round cornerback Fred Smoot two. This year there could be as many as four absences, though the parties involved noted that a lot can get done on the final day.
In the cases of Betts and Russell, there was said to be particular frustration on the parts of the players. A hard-line negotiating stance was taken by the Redskins front office, led by Joe Mendes in his first year as vice president of football operations.
The silver lining for the club is that none of the draft picks is expected to contribute heavily this season. There are several who could see playing time like Betts and Ramsey might even make a run at the starting job. But the team certainly is not relying on any of the rookies.
Last year was quite different, when both Gardner and Smoot emerged as starters. So was 2000, when first-rounders LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels both were expected to start. Arrington missed three days of camp and didn't win the starting job until early in the season; Samuels sat out only the pre-camp sessions for rookies and was an instant starter.
Looking further back shows holdouts with detrimental effects, especially in the cases of wide receiver Michael Westbrook (26 days in 1995) and quarterback Heath Shuler (13 days in 1994). Both got off to poor starts as professionals that seemed to have lasting effects on their careers.
Washington ended yesterday with just three of 10 picks signed, but three more were expected to sign without too much difficulty. Fifth-round tight end Robert Royal had an agreement in principle; sixth-round tackle Reggie Coleman was within a thousand dollars or so of his target signing bonus; and seventh-round long snapper Jeff Grau was preparing to come to some sort of resolution on his dispute.
With regard to Grau, the Redskins have not wanted to give him a signing bonus as large as a regular position player would get in his slot. Grau has been arguing adamantly that he deserves such a signing bonus.


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