- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 23, 2003

Cornerback Champ Bailey needs more time to weigh the Washington Redskins’ opening contract proposal.

Agent Jack Reale gave that message to Redskins officials yesterday in a telephone conversation, NFL sources said. The sides are expected to talk again next week.

The next step probably is a counterproposal from Bailey, and sources said that could be coming soon.

Bailey has at least nine points of contention with Washington’s nine-year, $55million offer, ranging from the size of the signing bonus and overall value to the presence of workout bonuses and an insurance policy he is being asked to buy to benefit the club.

Further discussions and/or a counterproposal would address such issues in detail, but so far negotiations have not entered a substantive stage.

Bailey, a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Signing him to an extension would keep him off the market, where he could earn a signing bonus between $15million and $20million.

The Redskins’ proposed signing bonus was for $14.7million, but it included a restructuring of money Bailey already is scheduled to make this season.

By that measure, Washington’s proposal would make Bailey the game’s highest-paid cornerback. However, the $6.1million annual average would rank him No.5, and some people in the NFL already question that average because it includes superfluous eighth and ninth years.

Bailey’s incentive to sign an extension is getting the signing bonus money, which he could lose if he were to suffer a major injury. The Redskins also could use the franchise tag on him next spring, though that would hamper their relationship with Bailey and have significant salary cap implications.

Sale approved

NFL owners approved the sale of a minority stake in the Redskins franchise from owner Dan Snyder to three investors.

Fred W. Smith, founder and chairman of Federal Express; Dwight Schar, a Northern Virginia real estate executive; and Robert Rothman, a Florida insurance executive; purchased about 20 percent of the franchise from Snyder for slightly more than $200 million.

Snyder, who with his family retains controlling interest in the organization, will apply the proceeds to pay down the team’s debt.

“I am very excited that Bob, Dwight and Fred have agreed to become partners in the Redskins,” Snyder said in a statement. “These men have achieved tremendous success in their respective businesses and shown the kind of community leadership that will contribute to the Redskins’ commitment to winning and philanthropic involvement in the Washington community.”

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