- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2003

In a move that should benefit both sides, the Washington Redskins have renegotiated Bruce Smith’s contract and paid the veteran defensive end the bonus he was in line to receive for breaking the NFL sack record.

The deal was confirmed by NFL sources and Smith’s agent, Leigh Steinberg.

The Redskins reworked Smith’s old deal, writing out the incentive clause that was to pay the 40-year-old $750,000 for becoming the league’s all-time sack leader and writing in a $1million clause that kicks in if Washington makes the playoffs this season. Smith now receives the same sack bonus up front although he will enter tomorrow’s game against the New England Patriots 2 sacks behind record-holder Reggie White.

As a result, the $750,000 that would have counted against the cap in 2004 will be applied this year, as will the $1million playoff bonus. Washington had plenty of cap space to take on the additional $1.75million this year and in the process could free up as much as $1.75 million of cap space in 2004.

Smith, meanwhile, benefits from the deal because he stands to receive more compensation than he was originally in line for this season. His eventual pay this season also will be more appropriate for a player of his skills. (Smith’s original renegotiated deal was signed with the expectation that he would be a backup, but he has started every game.)

Smith has been credited with a half a sack through the Redskins’ first three games, but he figures to break White’s record at some point this season. When he does, Steinberg said the Redskins are developing a commemorative logo incorporating Smith, Washington and the Buffalo Bills (where Smith played for the first 15 years of his career).

Backups will play

Coach Steve Spurrier reiterated yesterday that several backups will get considerable playing time tomorrow against New England.

Robert Royal will make his third straight start at tight end although Zeron Flemister is back after missing two weeks with a strained Achilles’ tendon. Rookie Derrick Dockery, who could also start if left guard Dave Fiore is unable to play with a swollen knee, will be rotated in and out. Kevin Mitchell will come in to spell middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.

And defensive end Regan Upshaw will sub for Smith with more regularity. Spurrier noted that Smith needs more rest after lining up for 58 plays last week against the Giants.

“We’re just trying to balance it up, try to get all our guys involved,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got good players, we need to use all of them.”

Coles’ toe OK

Laveranues Coles sprained a toe during last week’s game but never told coaches or trainers. The league’s leading receiver couldn’t keep the injury a complete secret, though, because coaches noticed him limping slightly earlier in the week.

Spurrier said Coles was fine yesterday and should be able to play without any problems.

“He doesn’t like to let people know he’s hurt, which I sort of admire,” Spurrier said. “He was hobbling a little bit. But he’s practiced all week.”

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