- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

A recent contract offer from the Washington Redskins to linebacker LaVar Arrington appears unlikely to result in a new deal anytime soon.

The Redskins are seeking to extend Arrington’s current contract — set to void in two years — and lower his bloated salary cap figures. Currently the club would have little flexibility for free agents this offseason if it uses the franchise tag on cornerback Champ Bailey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

Arrington, unlike Bailey, remains under contract. And because he is scheduled to make so much money, about $15.5million the next two seasons, there is no reason for him to accept an extension unless the Redskins overwhelm him with guaranteed money.

The terms of Washington’s offer are unclear, but the club probably would need to offer Arrington close to $20million in guaranteed money — in line with the $19million Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis received in his 2002 benchmark deal — for him to set aside his current deal. The Redskins also could generate leverage by threatening to cut Arrington.

In the preseason, Washington offered cornerback Champ Bailey a long-term extension that included $14.7million in guaranteed money. Bailey rejected the deal for a variety of reasons, including the amount of guaranteed money and the fact that only $7.4million of it was a true signing bonus.

Given Washington’s current cap state, the club can offer little signing bonus. The Redskins have less than $700,000 of cap room, meaning they could pay a signing bonus of about $3.5million. The rest of the guaranteed money would have to come in an option bonus. After the season, the Redskins could make an offer that includes a more generous signing bonus.

Further complicating any deal is the fact that Arrington is represented by agent Carl Poston, as tough a negotiator as any NFL agent.

An ESPN report yesterday claimed Arrington already had rejected Washington’s offer, but a high-ranking Redskins official said that neither Arrington nor Poston had communicated that to the team. Regardless, Washington’s offer at best is a start to difficult talks.

Morton sidelined

The Redskins’ tailback situation grew more precarious as projected starter Chad Morton skipped practice with a return bout of the flu. Morton missed most of last week’s workouts with the flu but was able to play Sunday against the New York Giants.

With Morton, Trung Canidate and Ladell Betts out, John Simon and fullback Rock Cartwright got the bulk of carries at tailback. Rookie Sultan McCullough also would get some carries if Washington’s top three backs sat out.

Morton looked like he was feeling terrible as he exited Redskin Park in the evening. When asked whether he might play Sunday, he replied, “I think so. I’m going to do anything I can.”

Canidate skipped a second straight practice with a sprained foot. He wasn’t sure if he would work out today, but it appears unlikely he’ll play. Betts is essentially out with a fractured forearm; he is holding out hope he might play next week or the week after.

The Redskins have some optimism about how Simon would perform in extended action, but he remains somewhat limited in his knowledge of the offense.

“I’m a good 80 percent on a lot of this stuff, but things change every week,” said Simon, who has spent a little more than four weeks with the Redskins in two stints. “A lot of this stuff we’re putting in, it takes me a little longer because I don’t have the foundation. I have to go home and study.”

Lake effect

Heavy rain and melting snow flooded the practice fields at Redskin Park. The artificial turf field was totally submerged, forcing practice into the Dulles SportsPlex.

Coach Steve Spurrier said the team was able to get in all its work except for long passes. He thought today’s practice probably would be at Dulles SportsPlex, too, and he made a pitch for a similar setup at Redskin Park.

“Obviously an indoor facility is something probably needed, and I’m sure [owner Dan] Snyder and the Redskins will look into getting one for us,” Spurrier said.

The sight of the Redskins’ practice fields under so much water was surreal. Said receiver Rod Gardner: “We’ll go outside under a lot of circumstances, but I don’t think we have any swimsuits.”

Extra points

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey is set to have surgery on his foot early next week. … Left guard Dave Fiore, who went on injured reserve Nov. 4, has elected not to have surgery on his inflamed knee. He will use a combination of treatment and rest to get ready for 2004. …

Tackle Chris Samuels (knee) missed a second straight practice and appears increasingly unlikely to play Sunday. … Arrington (knee) sat out practice after doing some work Wednesday, but Spurrier remained confident he would play. … Wide receiver Laveranues Coles (toe) wasn’t able to do much at practice but remains in line to play.

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