- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

The Washington Redskins addressed their thin defensive and offensive lines with a pair of minimum-salary additions yesterday, adding defensive tackle Santana Dotson and offensive lineman Kipp Vickers.

Both veterans agreed to one-year deals. Dotson, a standout interior pass-rusher during 10 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers, also picked up a $25,000 signing bonus.

Dotson's salary is $750,000; Vickers' is $525,000. Dotson counts $475,000 against the salary cap, Vickers $450,000, leaving Washington with a bit more than $3.3 million of cap room. Monday's release of defensive end Marco Coleman opened up $3.5 million of space and allowed the Redskins to become active in the post-June 1 market.

Washington apparently will continue to pursue free agents on the defensive line but probably is done shopping on the offensive line. On defense the Redskins are interested in two standout Baltimore Ravens free agents, tackle Sam Adams and end Rob Burnett, but on offense there doesn't seem to be much available.

Two well-known guards were cap cuts this week: Ray Brown of the San Francisco 49ers and Glenn Parker of the New York Giants. But Brown is 39 and Washington does not appear very interested in him, while Parker failed his physical with the Giants. Otherwise former Redskin Matt Campbell is available, but he would fill the same role as Vickers: competing to start at left guard and backing up several positions otherwise.

Redskins line coach Kim Helton acknowledged the limited guard market earlier in the day, before Vickers signed. He said his level of optimism that the club would acquire a starting guard in free agency was "poor," saying there aren't many quality interior blockers and the few available probably would be too rich for Washington's limited funds.

The Redskins' current cap space is needed to sign their 10 draft picks and create an injury fund for the season. Any big-name signing would require a significant move, probably restructuring defensive end Bruce Smith's contract.

When discussing Vickers and free-agent possibilities beyond him, Helton was characteristically blunt.

"He's a guy who's played in the National Football League some, he's made a decent contribution to his team," Helton said. "Basically I think the personnel [department] and administration are trying, but you just can't say, 'Hey, we have four dollars and we want a 10-dollar player.'"

Dotson, 32, comes to Washington after a 2001 season in which he didn't seem fully recovered from a torn quadriceps tendon in 2000. He started 13 games and posted 3½ sacks, but Green Bay released him in late February and installed young Cletidus Hunt on the interior line alongside Gilbert Brown.

The starting job alongside Dan Wilkinson could be Dotson's if Washington does not land another lineman. Adams has been waiting all offseason for a mammoth contract, and Burnett is attracting quite a bit of interest in the market. Adams would be a starter if he signs; Burnett might start at left end while Renaldo Wynn would move to the middle.

Dotson (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) represents a speedy, pass-rushing tackle like Wynn or departed Redskin Kenard Lang, rather than a huge, space-eating tackle like Wilkinson or Adams.

Vickers, 32, returns to Washington after two seasons in Baltimore. He started 14 games last year at both guard positions and right tackle. Now he will battle untested David Loverne for the left guard spot.

Helton believes his linemen are making progress toward being, at the very least, the capable pass-blocking unit that coach Steve Spurrier needs for his creative offense. Helton considers Loverne (6-3, 299) a bit undersized but thinks it's a problem that can be overcome. Vickers (6-2, 300) is similar in size to Loverne.

"There's no question: We will be a good pass-protection football team with who we have right now," Helton said. "It takes a better athlete but certainly a lesser-sized person to be a productive pass-protector, and I think that's where we are right now. Probably we're a little undersized at the left guard."

Helton pointedly said the key to the line's play is right guard Rod Jones, a free agent pickup who played tackle starting Super Bowl XXXVI in February for the St. Louis Rams but debuted as a guard with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1996.


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