- The Washington Times - Friday, July 26, 2002

CARLISLE, Pa. The offensive anchor may wander off next year.

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Jon Jansen is looking for a contract extension entering the final season of a five-year deal. After watching high-priced free agents like cornerback Deion Sanders and quarterback Jeff George score big paydays without producing in past seasons, Jansen said the team's core players should be rewarded, too.

"Guys like Deion come in and get big money and I'm in there every day, never missed a practice. Why doesn't some of that money go to guys who do all the work?" Jansen said. "Sometimes you see ones that never do anything and still go team to team and sign big contracts. I wish it were set up where guys who love to play and bust their necks got the money."

Jansen is certainly one of the Redskins' cornerstones. The 1999 second-rounder has missed only one snap in 50 games, has manhandled many marquee defensive ends and has become a highly respected team captain. Despite searching annually for guards and a center, the Redskins still set two team rushing records in three years behind Jansen on the right side.

The Redskins are expected to have about $2million under the salary cap once quarterback Patrick Ramsey is signed. Although $1million is usually needed as an emergency injury fund, the team could use its remaining surplus now to solidify its long-term line. Contract talks could come during the preseason because letting Jansen reach the free agent market in February might mean losing him.

"I'm willing to talk now," he said. "If they're going to come with a huge contract, I'm not going to say no. That would be foolish. Most talk will be between my agent and [Redskins vice president of football operations] Joe Mendes, so it's not going to distract me."

But Jansen admitted he was distracted last season. He would leave quickly after daily practice and lacked some passion without knowing what was the problem.

"I had a chip on my shoulder," he said. "There were just a lot of things that had nothing to do with the Redskins, but for some reason I wasn't very happy, and it came out in my play. I don't know if I was taking things too seriously, but I wasn't having fun like I always have."

But returning to his native Michigan in June for a month-long vacation finally eased the frustration. The upbeat Jansen is again amid the laughter.

"Life's too short to be mad all the time, and I have the best job in America," he said. "It hit me if I were doing any other job there's no way I could go away for four weeks. There's no other job that gives me that freedom."

But Jansen remains bothered over never having reached the Pro Bowl despite steady performances. He quickly gained a league-wide reputation when he dominated New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan twice in his first season. The Pro Bowl defender talked of manhandling Jansen, but the latter silenced him.

"It bothers me," Jansen said of the Pro Bowl snubs. "For awhile, I was real upset about it, but it's a goal that you don't have any control over. Somebody else decides if you're good enough."

Compounding the lack of attention was that left tackle Chris Samuels reached the Pro Bowl last year in his second season. A team often needs to go deep into the playoffs to send both tackles to the Pro Bowl. Yet Jansen isn't upset that Samuels' gain may be his shortfall.

"If Chris ends up making the Pro Bowl for the next 15 years and I never go once, it really won't bother me because I'm comfortable with how I've played," Jansen said.

Offensive line coach Kim Helton hasn't given Jansen any relief despite concentrating on the interior line's problems. Helton still pushes Jansen, who relishes hard work.

"You always coached the best players the hardest," Helton said. "The worst mistake would be to coach Jon less hard than some rookie. You owe it to Jon Jansen to be a Pro Bowl player. He has to have a very high batting average."


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