- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington met a significant trigger in his contract this season that escalates his 2003 salary cap figure into the range that is getting running back Stephen Davis cut.
Arrington, a two-time Pro Bowl pick in three NFL seasons, will not be released, but his hefty new cap figure of $9.7million illustrates just how quickly a top-five draft pick can become a cap burden if he meets expectations.
Including a $3million incentive Arrington recently reached which counts against Washington's cap but not Arrington's per se the second overall pick in the 2000 draft currently accounts for $12.7million, or more than 17 percent of the team's limit next season.
Davis, to compare, is being cut in part because he is scheduled to count $11.4million against the cap.
Meanwhile, Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis has interviewed for the Cincinnati Bengals' head coaching position. He spent most of Tuesday in Cincinnati meeting with club officials, he confirmed yesterday following a report by CNN/SI.
"I left there excited," said Lewis, who said Wednesday he would interview but didn't reveal that he already had. "Hopefully we can go forward."
Sources familiar with the Bengals' search said a decision might come early next week. Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is scheduled to interview tomorrow. He and Lewis appear to be front-runners for the job, and recently fired Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin seems to be a candidate, as well.
For the Bengals to hire Lewis, a number of issues must be resolved, sources said. Among them are the makeup of the coaching staff; Lewis would want to remake the staff and bring in mostly new people. Also, Lewis would try to convince the Bengals to expand their scouting staff, which is the league's smallest.
Arrington already was scheduled for a big cap figure in 2003, thanks to escalators earned in 2000 and 2001. But another Pro Bowl effort this season, combined with the Redskins finishing No.5 in total defense, took him to a new plateau.
The latest payout for Arrington includes a $1million escalator to his 2003 and 2004 base salaries. Thus his 2003 base salary alone approaches $6million. Arrington also earned the $3million incentive, which for accounting purposes is not included in his $9.7million cap figure.
With Arrington's new payouts official, Washington is in line to consume more than $70million of the $73.9million limit with 51 players in the fold. That figure assumes that the club makes tender offers to each of its nine restricted players, and that Davis and safety Sam Shade are cut as expected.
With defensive tackle Daryl Gardener still unsigned, the Redskins won't have much room to go shopping this offseason. They will restructure contracts to sign a few players and complete the draft, but obtaining even two star-caliber free agents might force significant compromises in 2004 and beyond.
The Redskins' third overall pick in 2000, left tackle Chris Samuels, also has boosted his 2003 cap figure to enormous levels between $7.2million and $7.4million. Together, he and Arrington are scheduled to account for more than 27 percent of the Redskins' 2003 cap.
Davis' cap figure of $11.4million is helping force his release. But another big factor is he's ill fit for coach Steve Spurrier's pass-based offense. A powerful interior rusher and two-time Pro Bowl player, Davis' skills are best utilized in a system committed to the run.
Arrington and Samuels, by contrast, are young players and a big part of the Redskins' foundation. Their contracts likely will be restructured this year and again in future seasons, but the players aren't in danger of being cut.
The Redskins might have to give Arrington a whole new pact because he is earning so much. For now it remains unclear whether the club will attempt to rewrite his entire deal, luring him to forego the remaining years as currently structured in favor of a huge guaranteed payout.
Note Any potential agreement for the Redskins to hold training camp at William & Mary would be complicated by the tight budget for Virginia's public school system, a school official said. William & Mary not only would have to be compensated for the cost of camp but probably for lost revenues from activities it usually would hold at that time.
In other words, William & Mary won't play host to camp simply for the publicity, something a private school in southern Virginia might do.

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