- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Washington Redskins top draft pick Patrick Ramsey remained nowhere near signing last night and is all but certain to become a holdout this morning as the club opens training camp in Carlisle, Pa.
The Redskins completed a flurry of deals yesterday to get all their other selections under contract, but Ramsey, the strong-armed quarterback taken 32nd overall, was set to become the club's fourth holdout in three years.
Making sizable progress over the past few days to land contracts were running back Ladell Betts (second round) and wide receiver Cliff Russell (third round). A total of six draft picks signed, including cornerback Rashad Bauman (third round), tight end Robert Royal (fifth round), tackle Reggie Coleman (sixth round) and long snapper Jeff Grau (seventh round).
Meanwhile, second-year interior lineman David Brandt, a promising young player and the Redskins' top undrafted free agent last season, abruptly retired after losing his desire to play. Brandt apparently had been weighing the decision to quit football and return to Michigan to coach and teach for some time.
With regard to Ramsey, the sides remained almost as far apart as possible in the evening with no more talks scheduled. The sides were staying optimistic and talks had not grown contentious, but none of the deal's facets signing bonus, salaries, escalators, incentives, etc. had been worked out.
Agent Jimmy Sexton wouldn't guess how long the holdout might last, but it seemed likely to threaten wide receiver Rod Gardner's four-day absence last season. Also holding out in recent years were first-round linebacker LaVar Arrington (three days, 2000) and second-round cornerback Fred Smoot (two days, 2001).
"Right now, we haven't agreed to any aspect of the deal, so it's hard to speculate on how much time this is going to take," Sexton said. "For the amount of time we've spent working on this thing, we haven't made a lot of progress."
No face-to-face meetings were planned, the theory being that too little had been accomplished. The sides met in person at Redskin Park last week for preliminary discussions and since have spoken by phone.
Several unique factors conspired to help make Ramsey a holdout, including the lack of increase in the rookie pool (salary cap for rookies), which made deals across the NFL get done slowly; the Redskins' early start to camp, thanks to the Aug.3 exhibition in Osaka, Japan; and the hard-line stance taken with each pick by the Redskins front office, in its first year under vice president of football operations Joe Mendes.
Perhaps driving the Redskins' position has been the fact that no selection is expected to start this season. Ramsey played well enough in minicamps to earn a slim chance at the job, but there are three more experienced quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart.
Coach Steve Spurrier indicated that Ramsey's small chance would diminish without a resolution, saying, "He would be way behind if he's not here very quickly."
Regarding Brandt, agent Joe Linta said he was surprised by the lineman's decision but exited a 1-hour conversation this morning convinced that Brandt had considered his options sufficiently.
"He just didn't have it in him," Linta said. "He didn't want to play. I give him a lot of credit he owned up to his feelings. It's something that's been festering for a while, unbeknownst to me."
The departure of Brandt, 24, means the Redskins have one less candidate to vie for the starting vacancy at left guard. Brandt played center at Michigan but mostly guard as a Redskin. Untested David Loverne and veteran Kipp Vickers are the leading candidates to replace departed Dave Szott at left guard.

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