- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

A day after one prize target was eliminated from the group of free agent receivers the Washington Redskins are monitoring so closely, an equally compelling player entered.

The Arizona Cardinals elected yesterday not to use the franchise tag on star wide receiver David Boston, meaning there's a good chance Boston will be available for the Redskins' bidding when free agency opens next Friday.

Boston's escape of the tag, which would have all but precluded him from making a deal with another team, was as surprising as the Buffalo Bills' use of it Wednesday on Peerless Price.

Price was considered the top receiver in an otherwise mediocre group of wideouts expected to become unrestricted free agents. And there were strong indications the Redskins were preparing to make a run at him as a key upgrade for coach Steve Spurrier's second season.

Now Boston, who caught 98 passes for 1,598 yards in 2001, takes that headline spot, though certain characteristics seem to make him a less attractive fit for Washington.

For one, the 6-foot-2 Boston is a tall, physically powerful player unlike the short (5-10) and speedy Price. Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun flourished with quick receivers at Florida. Also, some NFL personnel people say the Redskins' current No. 1 receiver, Rod Gardner, who is built like Boston, needs to play opposite a speed receiver to maximize his talents.

Another issue is Boston's off-field trouble. He recently pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and could face a fine or suspension from the NFL. The Cardinals declined to use the franchise tag in part because they didn't want to commit a lot of money ($5 million for one season) to a player with Boston's off-field questions.

Also, Boston played in just eight games last season, undergoing surgery for a torn patella tendon in November.

There are other factors that make Boston's signing with Washington a long shot. For one, Boston would like to re-sign with Arizona, and the club has seven more days of exclusive negotiating rights. Also, if he hits the market, as was said with Price, Boston would command an enormous contract. The Redskins are not in good salary cap shape, and big-ticket players might force compromises in future seasons.

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