- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

A lack of leverage against defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson will keep him from accepting a paycut and the Washington Redskins from releasing the overpaid veteran — at least anytime soon.

Threatening a release has been the club’s only potential leverage to make Wilkinson lower his $3.5million salary. But Wilkinson’s camp has known for months that any such threat is hollow because there aren’t any starting-quality defensive tackles available.

NFL sources this week confirmed that the Redskins are not considering any of the available free agent interior linemen and that the club’s already thin group means it cannot part with Wilkinson unless it finds a suitable replacement.

The Redskins and Wilkinson’s camp haven’t spoken for two weeks. During the most recent conversation, neither side offered anything that interested the other.

The next move now could take one of two forms:

First, a starting-quality defensive tackle could be released by another team — or an impending release could open the possibility of a trade. The Redskins are monitoring several such situations around the league, including that of Chicago lineman Ted Washington, NFL sources said.

Washington, 35, missed all but two games last season because of an ankle and leg injury, but in 2001 he was a Pro Bowl alternate. Listed at 365 pounds, he is one of the NFL’s more talented widebodies. The Bears, however, reportedly are ready to part with Washington or the equally large Keith Traylor by the end of camp.

Even the availability of Washington could influence Wilkinson to take a paycut. But such a scenario would need several weeks to play out. In late July, teams generally want to get into camp and see how players perform before making any moves.

The second scenario is that the Redskins could offer a contractual concession to obtain one. For example, if the club guaranteed part of Wilkinson’s $3.5million salary, he might consider risking another portion of it as an incentive.

Currently, the Redskins want Wilkinson to turn part of his salary into an incentive. His people fear he could make that sacrifice and still get cut in camp. The Redskins would continue to monitor other teams’ potential outcasts with nothing stopping them from choosing one over Wilkinson.

If Wilkinson does get cut, he gets nothing from the Redskins and only what another NFL team is willing to pay. That certainly won’t be $3.5million and might not even be $1million. If part of his salary were guaranteed, the Redskins essentially would be forced to keep him for the negotiated total figure.

Meanwhile, the Redskins made progress in signing their three draft picks. Vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato expects a deal for seventh-round pick Gibran Hamdan to be completed “in the next day or so.”

Contract figures for Hamdan, projected as Washington’s No.3 quarterback, and third-round pick Derrick Dockery are fairly certain now that the bulk of players drafted close to each has signed.

Hamdan stands to receive a three-year deal worth about $942,000 with a $32,000 signing bonus (slightly more than the 49ers gave to fellow quarterback Ken Dorsey, who was drafted nine spots after Hamdan). Dockery, expected to be one of the Redskins’ top backup linemen, figures to get a bonus in the neighborhood of $483,000 and a three-year, $1.393million contract.

Cerrato said the club exchanged proposals with Dockery and second-round wide receiver Taylor Jacobs, but those deals are not expected to be finalized until later in the week. Jacobs will command a five-year deal approaching $4million.

Note — A Redskins spokeswoman confirmed fans will not be turned away from training camp without their “training camp invitation,” but she reiterated fans are strongly encouraged to obtain invites and bring them. The hope is to track and predict attendance to make camp run more smoothly. The invitations can be obtained at www.redskins.com, at one of the team stores or via fax by calling the ticket office at 301/276-6050.

Staff writer Mark Zuckerman contributed to this report.

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