- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Washington Redskins won't seek out another veteran wide receiver now that attempts to sign Raghib "Rocket" Ismail essentially have ended.

Personnel director Vinny Cerrato yesterday termed the possible addition of Ismail, projected to be the No. 3 receiver and a mentor for an otherwise young corps, a "bonus," rather than a specific need that must be filled.

Thus the Redskins will be looking for an unproven player to step up. Competing for the Nos. 3 and 4 spots behind starters Rod Gardner and Laveranues Coles will be Patrick Johnson, Darnerien McCants and Cliff Russell.

Washington has quieted down in free agency after 12 acquisitions in the first three weeks. The club is taking a look at veteran fullback Larry Centers, a former Redskins standout and recent cut by Buffalo, but other NFL teams are interested. Generally, the Redskins are looking ahead to the April 26-27 draft, and their draft meetings are set to begin next week.

Talks to sign Ismail broke down for a second time, the first coming a few weeks ago when he decided to retire. Sources said family considerations were the primary motivation for his retirement consideration. He also has lingering concern about last year's neck injury.

"We tried hard to do a deal," agent Lon Babby said. "We couldn't strike a balance. … As of now [talks are] just kind of done."

Asked if negotiations might be rekindled, Babby replied, "I don't know. I suppose anything's possible. For now, nothing further is going on."

Jody Foldesy

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