- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

SAN DIEGO Washington Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith doesn't want to retire.
History's No.2 all-time sack leader said last night he wants to return for an 19th NFL season, though he declined to elaborate and it's not certain that the Redskins will retain him.
"I'd like to come back, but let's leave it at that," said Smith, in town for the festivities leading up to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Smith, who will turn 40 in June, strongly considered retiring right after the season but was talked out of an immediate decision by owner Dan Snyder and defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.
The Redskins have warmed to the idea of Smith returning in 2003 because of his production in the season's stretch run. A late surge left him with nine sacks, three short of Reggie White's all-time NFL record of 198.
Adding to Smith's attractiveness is his low salary in 2003, the minimum $755,000.
Despite those factors, the club wants to upgrade the right end position. Smith's age and spotty play against the run have them looking at options in free agency and the draft, but he still could return as a third-down pass rusher.
The club's mentality has been to keep a young player of equal productivity over Smith, and not to retain him just so he could break the record. But his play in 2003 made a fairly convincing argument that he can contribute.
Another factor might be the departure of defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. A blunt evaluator of talent, Lewis might have held Smith to a higher standard than the current group of decision-makers. Owner Dan Snyder is extremely close with Smith.


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