- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS — The Washington Redskins have not yet found a team willing to meet their high demands for Champ Bailey.

The Redskins spent much of the weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine discussing a trade with several clubs interested in acquiring the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

Exactly what the Redskins’ demands are depends on who you talk to.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder doesn’t have one standing price for Bailey, NFL sources with knowledge of the negotiations said. In some cases, Snyder is asking for only a high first-round selection in this year’s draft. In others, he’s asking for both first- and second-round picks. And in still others, he’s interested in acquiring an active player in addition to any draft picks.

Meanwhile, an NFL source confirmed Washington has been in contact with the agent for Chicago Bears defensive end Phillip Daniels.

The Redskins’ contact, first reported by ESPN.com, is not tampering because the Bears have granted Daniels permission to talk with other teams. Daniels technically is not a pending free agent but is likely to hit the market because Chicago plans to cut him before paying a large roster bonus he is due.

Daniels, 30, is an eight-year veteran who can play both right and left end. He had just 2 sacks last season but registered nine as recently as 2001. The Redskins are seeking a pass rusher and could sign another end even if they land Daniels, who played under Redskins defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Greg Blache in Chicago the past four seasons.

The source said Washington has discussed “contract parameters” with Daniels’ agent, Hadley Engelhard. “A handful of other teams” could get involved over the next week or so.

The list of serious contenders to land Bailey, who had the franchise tag placed on him last week, has been whittled to about four. Agent Jack Reale said he’s confident any of those clubs will be willing to offer Bailey a long-term contract that meets his demands.

The problem for the Redskins is that none of those teams is jumping at Snyder’s initial offers.

The Detroit Lions, one of the first prospective suitors to emerge, appear to be backing off a deal. Team president Matt Millen said he has not spoken with anyone from the Redskins at the combine, and he is hesitant to give up his team’s first-round choice (No.6 overall) for Bailey.

No clubs other than the Lions publicly have stated their interest in Bailey, but NFL sources said the Denver Broncos are also serious contenders. The Broncos, who are searching for a cornerback, hold the 24th and 55th overall selections in the draft and could have some players on their roster intriguing to the Redskins.

The Arizona Cardinals, originally interested in Bailey, are no longer in the mix, NFL sources said. They were not willing to meet the Redskins’ demands.

With teams balking at Bailey’s sticker price and waiting to see how much Washington is willing to cave, there is no formal timetable for a deal to be struck.

The Redskins, though, would like to have a deal in place before the NFL free agency period opens March3 (the same day the league permits trades to be consummated). With the franchise tag on him, Bailey counts $6.8million against the salary cap this year, and Washington would like to clear that space before diving into the free agent market next week.

The Redskins are slightly under the league’s $80.5million salary cap, but they still need to issue tender offers to their five restricted free agents and one exclusive rights player by March3. Those moves are projected to bump them slightly over the cap.

Washington is expected to get $6.5million back when defensive end Bruce Smith formally announces his retirement, but that creates only enough cap space to pursue a couple of new players, and they already have added quarterback Mark Brunell (whose cap number this year is around $2.2million). By trading Bailey, Washington would clear an additional $6.8million of cap space, allowing them to pursue several more free agents next month.

The Redskins conceivably could still come to terms with Bailey on a new contract. But given the acrimonious relationship between the cornerback and Snyder, that’s not likely to happen. Bailey rejected the club’s original offer of nine-years, $55million and $14.7million in bonus money last summer, and the two sides have not budged since.

Bailey also could wind up playing this season in Washington under the franchise tag, earning his one-year tender offer of $6.8million. In such a scenario, Bailey (like most franchise players) probably would not report to training camp and would sit out the entire preseason, not wanting to risk injury.

That’s not something either side wants to deal with, giving further reason to believe the Redskins will work out a trade with one of the prospective clubs in due time.

cStaff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.

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