- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

The Washington Redskins could lose a first-round draft selection amid charges of improperly negotiating with New York Jets receiver Laveranues Coles, according to an NFL source.
NFL officials are reviewing the timing of the Redskins' $35million, seven-year deal with Coles that would send their first-round pick to the Jets as compensation for signing New York's restricted free agent. NFL sources said if the Redskins broke league rules by agreeing to a contract before actually signing Coles to an offer sheet Wednesday could bring sanctions.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue will consider whether to void the deal and strip the Redskins of their 13th overall NFL draft selection April26 or allow the contract and take the 2004 first-rounder. However, Tagliabue also could take no action if he finds the charge baseless.
A decision is expected by Thursday, when the Jets must decide whether to match the Redskins' offer and thus retain Coles.
The NFL's review surprised some league observers after earlier indications that it would be very difficult to prove any wrongdoing by the Redskins. An agreement between Washington and Coles apparently was completed Sunday night and confirmed by Coles on Monday and Tuesday. However, the Redskins needed time to create salary cap space, and the Jets didn't receive the offer sheet until Wednesday night.
The Redskins countered that reports of the deal were based on Coles' announcement and the contract wasn't completed until he underwent a physical Tuesday and his agent arrived in Washington for a final review of the deal Wednesday.
NFL sources said the Jets already are angry over the Redskins signing two of their unrestricted free agents and forcing New York to match a lucrative offer to returner Chad Morton. By voiding Coles' deal, New York would be able to retain the starting receiver for the modest tender offer of about $1.3million.

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