- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Mark Brunell isn’t the only veteran quarterback being eyed by Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

Gibbs also is considering several other veteran passers who might be obtained via trade, a Redskins source said late yesterday. In addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Brunell, with whom Gibbs met Monday in the St. Augustine, Fla., area, Gibbs appears to be eyeing the San Francisco 49ers’ Jeff Garcia and Seattle Seahawks’ Trent Dilfer.

Gibbs wasn’t available to comment on alternate trade targets. But earlier in the day he said he would be traveling to meet with other potential acquisitions before the market opens March3. Because the NFL prohibits meetings with pending free agents, Gibbs only can meet with trade targets when the player’s current club gives permission like Jacksonville did with Brunell.

The future of incumbent quarterback Patrick Ramsey also was addressed by Gibbs. Ramsey’s name began to swirl in trade rumors after Washington’s interest in Brunell became public, but Gibbs said the team won’t entertain trade offers for the Redskins’ 2002 first-round pick.

“No. That’s not a part of the plan,” Gibbs said. “We like everything about him. We think we have an excellent young quarterback here.”

The coach added that Ramsey will have the chance to compete for a starting job regardless of who is signed or drafted.

“Everybody on this team is going to compete for a starting job,” Gibbs said. “Yes, there’s guys you envision, ‘This guy’s a starter,’ but in general what we’re going to do is [hold] open competition, and who knows [how it will play out]?”

The latter statement, however, might be lip service with regard to Ramsey. Washington would need to give Brunell a significant new deal as part of any trade, and it wouldn’t make sense to pay such money to a backup quarterback.

Brunell’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, has said his client doesn’t want to go to a team where he would be part of a quarterback controversy. Yesterday Steinberg wouldn’t say whether Gibbs’ comments might affect Brunell’s thinking.

“We’re trying to find a franchise that Mark could lead without becoming embroiled in quarterback controversy,” Steinberg said. “The other priority is to find a team that has Super Bowl aspirations. The specifics of how all that plays out will vary from team to team. I don’t think it’s appropriate to get into the specifics of any discussions.”

It remained unclear what Gibbs might have said to Brunell privately. Of Monday’s meeting, which began with a trip to the hospital after Gibbs, a diabetic, became concerned about his blood-sugar levels, Gibbs said only that it was “good.” Steinberg said the dinner was “very positive” and that his client seemed to have a “natural rapport” with Gibbs.

Brunell doesn’t have total control over where he lands, but he does have considerable sway. A team probably wouldn’t want to trade for him if he doesn’t rework his contract, which calls for a $6.5million salary in 2004. But Jacksonville ultimately will decide which club makes the best trade offer.

A key question remains what the compensation would be. Washington’s second-round pick (41st overall) has been portrayed as the current benchmark offer, but several NFL sources speculated the actual pick probably would be lower. A Redskins source said no trade terms have been discussed between Washington and Jacksonville.

Also at issue is how a $2million roster bonus due at 12:01a.m. on March3, the day the trading period opens, might be resolved. Two NFL sources yesterday said the most likely scenario is that Brunell would work out a new contract with his preferred team, then delay the roster bonus if Jacksonville agreed to trade him to that club.

The Jaguars have said they are willing to pay the $2million to obtain a draft pick. The Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and possibly Tampa Bay Buccaneers also are in the hunt for Brunell.

Garcia, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, is in negotiations with the 49ers to rework his contract, which calls for $9.9million in new money this season. If talks fall through, San Francisco could realize a small salary cap savings by trading Garcia or free up considerable cap dollars by releasing him after June1. One NFL source, however, said the 49ers are facing public-relations pressure to retain Garcia.

Dilfer, who won Super Bowl XXXV with the Baltimore Ravens but now is Matt Hasselbeck’s backup, basically controls his own fate, according to an NFL source. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has offered to trade Dilfer if the quarterback can find a team that will allow him to compete for the starting job. But Seattle otherwise is not shopping him.

There are several other intriguing options in a quarterback market that one agent called “very much in flux right now.” Although the St. Louis Rams appear unlikely to trade Kurt Warner, Miami could part with Jay Fiedler or Brian Griese, the Cleveland Browns’ Kelly Holcomb could be available and the Arizona Cardinals already have released Jeff Blake.

Note — The legal fate of Redskins offensive tackle Kenyatta Jones will be determined April30, when he faces sentencing on a felony count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, according to a Wrentham (Mass.) District Court Clerk and Jones’ lawyer, Joseph Cataldo.

Jones hopes to serve probation and have the charge dropped at the end of the probationary period. The district attorney, according to Cataldo, is hoping Jones will be found guilty but is not seeking a jail term. The judge will hear further arguments April30 and probably will issue a ruling at that time.

Jones did not contest the assault and battery charge, while two other felony charges, for mayhem and assault to maim, were not prosecuted.

Jones was projected to start by the New England Patriots last season but was cut in October after being arrested for pouring boiling water on his house guest and administrative assistant, Mark Paul. He signed with Washington in November.

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