- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

The Washington Redskins continued negotiations yesterday with receiver Kevin Dyson, watched team MVP Daryl Gardener officially join the Denver Broncos and found themselves dealing with confusion over a prematurely announced trade with the New England Patriots.
Having added nine players to the organization the previous five days, the Redskins turned attention to Dyson, the Tennessee Titans' unrestricted free agent. The speedy receiver had dinner with owner Dan Snyder, coach Steve Spurrier and player personnel director Vinny Cerrato Tuesday night but left town yesterday without a deal, according to NFL sources.
A 1998 first-round pick of the Titans, Dyson caught 41 passes for 460 yards and four touchdowns last season but was hampered by a hamstring injury. When healthy, he's been a dangerous threat for Tennessee, best known for scoring the touchdown on the "Music City Miracle" in the 2000 AFC playoffs and for getting tackled at the 1-yard line on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV against the St. Louis Rams.
Terms of the Redskins' offer for Dyson were unclear, but fellow receiver Ike Hilliard (who compares favorably to Dyson) re-signed with the New York Giants for five years and $12.5million with a $2.5million bonus.
Washington's best offer wasn't enough to keep Gardener in uniform. The star defensive tackle and the Redskins' reigning player of the year finally came to terms yesterday with the Broncos after several days of negotiations.
Gardener agreed to a $33million, six-year contract with a $5million signing bonus. It's believed Denver offered him more than $15million over the first three years, which he had been seeking from Washington.
Meanwhile, the Redskins' pursuit of former New York Jets returner Chad Morton has hit a snag.
Monday, Washington announced it had traded two draft picks (a seventh-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick next year) for the Patriots' fifth-round pick this year. That fifth-round pick presumably would be used to compensate the Jets after the Redskins sign Morton, a restricted free agent.
But the trade with the Patriots has not been completed, according to several NFL sources.
The Redskins last night insisted terms of the trade have been agreed upon, though not made official.
"Dan Snyder and [New England owner] Bob Kraft agreed to a trade," Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said. "When the pick is needed, then the trade would be formalized. But the two owners agreed to a trade."
The Patriots have not publicly announced the deal, however, they don't dispute the Redskins' claim.
"That might be true," said Stacey James, New England's director of media relations. "What I've been told is a trade has not happened and is not imminent."
The Redskins haven't filed an offer sheet for Morton, the club's top target for a returner, and are keeping other options open.
Veteran receiver and returner Jermaine Lewis remains available and is tentatively scheduled to visit Redskin Park tomorrow. On the receiver front, Washington also had contact with Patrick Johnson, who caught nine passes for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year yet remains an alternative to Dyson.
Meanwhile, the Redskins are still awaiting word from the Green Bay Packers, who have until 4p.m. Tuesday to match Washington's four-year, $6million offer sheet for restricted free agent safety Matt Bowen. Already loaded at the safety position, the Packers appear unlikely to keep Bowen who was at Redskin Park yesterday for the second day. The Packers are expected to accept the Redskins' sixth-round draft pick as compensation.
With Gardener gone, receiver Derrius Thompson could be the next free agent to go. Thompson, who caught 53 passes as the club's No.2 receiver last year, will meet the Eagles today. He has visited the Dolphins and the Vikings.
The Redskins made two moves yesterday, signing offensive linemen Lennie Friedman and Tre Johnson to one-year contracts. Both deals had been agreed to in principle on Sunday.
Friedman, a backup guard who could challenge Larry Moore for the starting center job, signed for $450,000 with a $25,000 bonus; Tre Johnson, who showed flashes of his old self when he rejoined the Redskins last year at mid-season, will make $655,000.
With free agent options dwindling, the Redskins' coaching staff is shifting its focus to April's draft. A contingent, including Spurrier, left yesterday to attend the University of Miami's workout day.
Of particular interest is Hurricanes receiver Andre Johnson, a likely top-10 pick who could become available to the Redskins if they trade up from their current No.13 position.

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